Any last traces of support Angela Merkel's "open door" refugee policy may have once had in Germany, were crushed, burned and scattered after Germany’s Interior Ministry hardened its refugee policy, with media quoting it as saying that the EU should intercept migrant boats trying to reach Europe from across the Mediterranean and send them back to North Africa. “The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place,” a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
And yet, there was no mention that it was Germany's willingness to accomodate 1 million mostly Syrian refugees (and an unknown number of ISIS-affiliates) in 2015, that launched the biggest European migration wave since World War II. The ministry spokeman added that the minister himself believes the EU should intercept refugee boats at sea and return them to Africa, noting that it would “save migrants from the life-threatening journey” and “remove the basis for people-smuggling organizations.” It would also prevent any future plunge in Angela Merkel's approval rating which recently crashed to near record lows following several high profile terrorist attacks on Germany soil past summer.
The ministry’s proposal allegedly calls for migrants to be picked up in the Mediterranean and sent back to migrant camps in Tunisia, Egypt, or other North African states, instead of war-torn Libya, which is where most of them come from, RT reports. They could then apply for asylum in Europe from these camps and, if granted approval, be taken to Europe safely, according to the Ministry, though it said the notion is merely a proposal so far.
As RT adds, if enacted, Germany’s refugee policy could become as strict as that of Australia, which allows virtually no asylum seekers to cross its borders and instead redirects them to a distribution camp on the Pacific island of Nauru. Moreover, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last week that asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia by boat will be banned from ever entering the country again, even as tourists, sparking a backlash from international human rights groups and asylum-seeker advocates, who claim that the Australian authorities are being too harsh in dealing with refugees.
Not surprisingly, the idea of sending migrants back to Africa was not well received by Germany’s opposition.
“The Ministry of the Interior treats refugees as a contagious disease,” Green Party co-chair Katrin Goering-Eckardt told Welt am Sonntag. Bernd Riexinger, head of the leftist opposition Die Linke party, branded it “a humanitarian scandal and a further step toward elimination of the right to asylum.”
“The asylum check must take place in Germany, because the right to asylum also means the right to legal resources, that is, to lawyers, counseling centers, etc. The handling of refugees in Australia is absolutely unacceptable, and Germany and the EU must not be guided by it,” Riexinger stressed.
Meanwhile, the latest exodus from North Africa is accelerating with no end in sight: over 2,200 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea just on Saturday, Italy’s coast guard reported. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration reported last week that at least 159,496 people had reached Italy by sea this year, and 4,220 had died in attempting to do so, which is almost 500 more than in the whole of 2015.
Germany was beset with an influx of around 900,000 asylum seekers and migrants last year. The UN has warned that the recent military offensive on Mosul could lead to another million refugees. The just announced offensive on the Islamic State capital of Raqa will only add to the number of innocent migrants and hardened Jihadists wishing to enter Europe, and Germany in particular.