Germany Begins Border Checks

By Geir Moulson; Shawn Pogatchnik | Charleston Gazette Mail, September 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Germany Begins Border Checks


Geir Moulson; Shawn Pogatchnik, Charleston Gazette Mail


BERLIN - Germany introduced temporary border controls Sunday to stem the tide of thousands of refugees streaming across its frontier, sending a clear message to its European partners that it needs more help with an influx that is straining its ability to cope. Germany is a preferred destination for many people fleeing Syria's civil war and other troubled nations in the migration crisis that has bitterly divided Europe. They have braved dangerous sea crossings in flimsy boats - another 34 drowned Sunday off Greece - and made long treks across unwelcoming countries in hopes of a better life.

More than a week ago, Germany and Austria agreed to let in migrants who had massed in Hungary, saying it was a one-time measure to ease an emergency. The flow has continued undiminished, and while Germans have remained welcoming, officials said the numbers were straining the country's ability to provide accommodations.

Berlin has become increasingly frustrated with the reluctance of many other countries in the 28-nation European Union - especially those in the former Eastern bloc - to share the burden of hosting the newcomers. Sunday's action came a day before a meeting of EU interior ministers to discuss the crisis.

"The aim of this measure is to limit the current influx to Germany and to return to orderly entry procedures, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters. "This is also urgently necessary for security reasons.

De Maiziere added: "The great readiness to help that Germany has shown in recent weeks ... must not be overstretched.

He did not specify how long the border controls would remain in place or how exactly incoming migrants would be handled, saying only that Germany will continue to observe national and European rules on protecting refugees.

German officials didn't have further details, but in principle, border checks allow officials to turn back anyone lacking valid papers to enter.

The move, de Maiziere said, was also "a signal to Europe: Germany is facing up to its humanitarian responsibility, but the burdens connected with the large number of refugees must be distributed in solidarity within Europe.

Germany's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, said it had suspended service from Austria to Germany for 12 hours at the orders of authorities. Most new arrivals have come by train.

De Maiziere noted that Germany isn't technically responsible for most of the new arrivals, pointing to EU rules under which they are supposed to be registered and processed in the first EU country where they arrived. He urged other countries to apply those rules, and said people seeking protection cannot choose the country where they receive it.

He said Germany was reintroducing checks at its borders with an "emphasis on the Austrian frontier. …

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