Germany calls for fairer distribution of refugees in Europe

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 30, 2015 8:30 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and a handful of other European Union states cannot go on absorbing a disproportionate share of refugees arriving in the bloc and other members must do more, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

Germany expects the number of asylum seekers it receives to quadruple to about 800,000 this year. Two state premiers said over the weekend the total could even hit 1 million in 2015.

"Germany and a few other countries are by far ... those that receive the most refugees," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. "With 28 European member states, that cannot remain the case on a continuing basis. There will have to be a fairer distribution of refugees, with more solidarity."

Some European governments have refused to take in refugees and resisted EU proposals to agree a common plan to do more to deal with the crisis, which is intensifying due to a surge in migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Seibert said Europe needed a new approach as many member states were no longer observing the EU's Dublin regulations, which assign most asylum seekers to the first EU country they enter until their application has been processed.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday Europe's existing policy for addressing the refugee crisis was "a disgrace", adding: "Europe threatens to fail over this scandalous handling" of the situation.

Germany is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees.

The country has witnessed over a hundred arson attacks on asylum shelters. Last weekend, more than 30 police were injured in clashes in the eastern town of Heidenau, near Dresden, when a protest against a refugee shelter there got out of hand.

On Saturday, around 5,000 people marched peacefully in Dresden in a show of support for refugees. The demonstration came as some state politicians said the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany this year could surpass 800,000.

Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier said he expect around 1 million to arrive. Dietmar Woidke, state premier of Brandenburg, agreed that was possible: "I'm ruling nothing out, including a million," Woidke told the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper.

(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Mark Heinrich)