Refugees arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean should be sent back to Africa, and the current migrant policy must end, Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), a junior partner in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, demanded in a leaked policy paper.
“The existing policy of automatically bringing to Europe all people rescued in the Mediterranean must be broken,” urged in an internal paper qouted by the Rheinische Post, a daily newspaper.
“This is the only way to stop organized crime on the Mediterranean,” the document asserts. It also calls for enhanced co-operation with North African countries to persuade them to take back the migrants.
The paper comes less than two weeks after a terrorist attack in Berlin, in which Tunisian national Anis Amri rammed a truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 48.
The suspect, believed to be inspired by Islamic State (IS) reportedly came to Europe via Italy, and was subject to deportation at least twice. Amri’s case has once again sparked heated debate in Germany, with many criticizing Chancellor Merkel’s ‘open-door’ refugee policy.
The CSU has long criticized the government’s approach towards immigration, which has allowed about 1.1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere into Germany since 2015.
The Bavarian conservative party has also suggested that people coming to Germany across the border should only be allowed in if their identities can be proven. “Whoever does not submit a passport or cannot prove his or her identity must be stopped short at the German borders and placed in transit centres until the identity is clarified,” the memo added.
Merkel’s government has recently promised to speed up deportation of rejected asylum-seekers from Tunisia – an apparent reference to Amri’s origin. “Our democracy, our rule of law and our values and compassion stand in contrast with the hateful world of terrorism,” she said in defence of the proposal, seen by many as a post factum measure.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency UNHCR said that a record 5,000 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean this year alone, up from around 3,800 in 2015.
According to the latest IOM figures, 357,249 refugees crossed the Mediterranean this year, while an additional 24,058 arrived in Europe by land. //
Ken Kamara with agency reports