German officials have begun processing and registering 8,000 migrants and refugees who have arrived in Munich in the last 24 hours, Sky News reports. Some 340,000 arrivals have been accepted into Germany during the last 12 months with priority given to those who already have relatives in the country. Angela Merkel has said Germany has “the strength to do what is necessary” and there is no legal limit to the number of asylum seekers the country will take in.
The German Chancellor told the Funke consortium of newspapers: “The right to political asylum has no limits on the number of asylum seekers.“She added: “As a strong, economically healthy country we have the strength to do what is necessary and ensure every asylum seeker gets a fair hearing.” After they are given food, water and a health check the new arrivals will be taken to one of four registration centres in Munich before they are given temporary accommodation.
A train that arrived in the German town of Saalfeld late on Saturday, for example, had 570 people on board – more than half of whom were taken to Dresden, where a school previously used by German army officers was used to give them shelter. Others were taken by train to the northern city of Hamburg and Dortmund in the west, where buses also brought a few hundred to Berlin.
Many are refugees from the civil war in Syria who embarked on the perilous journey now because travel through the mountainous Balkan region is too arduous in winter. Among the refugees are economic migrants from poorer eastern European states such as Albania and Serbia, hoping for a better life in the west, according to Balkan expert Dušan Reljić. Those wishing to apply for asylum will have their fingerprints and photograph taken by German authorities before they receive a temporary resident’s permit.
Pocket money will be given for their personal daily needs along with basic provisions such as toiletries, clothing and basic provision of food. Asylum applicants will be given an opportunity to give an account of their persecution during an interview accompanied by a translator and in the event their application is unsuccessful they will be formally served with a deportation notice and asked to leave the country.
According to Der Spiegel magazine, Germany has deported over 10,000 foreigners this year, many of them from countries it deems safe such as Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.