Merkel and Seehofer agree to host 1,500 refugees from the Greek islands

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The Federal Chancellor, the Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, and her Interior Minister, the Bavarian Social Christian Horst Seehofer, have agreed to host 1,500 refugees from various Greek islands in Germany, according to sources from the Berlin executive. The initiative apparently came from the Minister of the Interior and has yet to be approved by the Social Democratic partners of the grand coalition, in favor of receiving a greater number of refugees. The Prime Minister of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union, Markus Söder, had previously been informed of Seehofer’s proposal and communicated his approval of it. The head of the Lower Saxony government, the Social Democrat Boris Pistorius, said that, although late, the initiative is “Reasonable and points in the right direction”But he regretted that the figure is too low and assured that his region can host 500 refugees in the short term.

Those who benefit from the German offer, unilaterally and without waiting for an agreement within the European Union, will be selected under objective criteria to avoid “unwanted side effects” and they will be mainly families with children and asylum seekers who have already been recognized as such in Greece. The German government stressed that not only will they be people from the island of Lesbos and the burned Moria camp, but also from other reception centers on different Greek islands at the express wish of the Athenian authorities, who have reiterated in recent days that the reception of refugees by Germany and, if necessary, other European countries should not send an equivocal signal.

The Greek government appears to fear that migrants hosted in other camps will follow the example of what happened in Moria and set them ablaze in the hope that their worsening situation will improve their chances of being transferred to mainland Greece or European Union countries, but also that the Berlin-initiated rescue will lead to new flows of migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands across the Aegean Sea. The vice chairman of the conservative parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei, pointed out that the Social Democrats must now decide whether to accept Merkel and Seehofer’s proposal. “Union politicians are not willing to go beyond that figure, since then any European solution to the problem of migration would be definitely impossible”Frei warned. Previously, the president of the SPD, Saskia Esken, had demanded that Germany give shelter to no less than 5,000 of the 12,000 migrants who have been living in Lesbos since the fire. The parties of the grand coalition had already announced their intention to position themselves on the rescue of refugees in Lesbos at the latest in the council of ministers that will take place this Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the president of the German humanitarian organization Caritas, Peter Neher, welcomed the initiative of the chancellor and her minister. “For all those who will escape the hell of Moria this way, this is good news and naturally 1,500 are better than 150”Neher said of the 150 unaccompanied and unaccompanied minors that Berlin had previously promised to rescue from Moria. The liberal, green and Left opposition had demanded that Germany host most of the migrants trapped in Lesbos, if not all, given the country’s excess reception capacities and the extensive infrastructure that existed since the crisis of the 2015 refugees. “I am happy for anyone who can escape the catastrophic circumstances of Lesbos, but the reception of only 400 families who have already been recognized as asylees is only an alibi offer”, when evaluating the proposal of Seehofer the parliamentary leader of the Greens, Kathrin Göring Eckardt, who demanded “the rapid reception of at least 5,000 people” to significantly reduce the pressure that exists on the island of Lesbos.

Criticisms of any reception of refugees or migrants have only been produced in this country by the ultranationalist and xenophobic party Alternative for Germany, which has warned that welcoming migrants from the island of Lesbos will lead to the burning of camps around the world to “To get a ticket to Germany by blackmail”.

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