Pressure on Merkel grows as flow of refugees continues

 Thousands more refugees were expected to arrive in Germany on Monday after 20,000 came in over the weekend, piling pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel whose open-door policy has made the country a magnet for people fleeing civil war in Syria.

Reuters| Last Updated: Sep 07, 2015, 15:11 PM IST

Munich: Thousands more refugees were expected to arrive in Germany on Monday after 20,000 came in over the weekend, piling pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel whose open-door policy has made the country a magnet for people fleeing civil war in Syria.

Christoph Hillenbrand, a senior official in Bavaria, where migrants have been arriving by the train-load from Hungary via Austria, told reporters that 2,500 new asylum seekers were likely to arrive in Germany by early afternoon. 

German and Austrian officials appeared to have been surprised by the numbers that continued to flow in from Hungary.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann had said on Sunday that he expected the situation to return to normal as emergency measures allowing refugees to cross the border from Hungary were phased out.

"It has now reached a volume that is already considerable," Hillenbrand, president of the government of Upper Bavaria, told reporters at Munich central train station on Monday morning. "We will still do our best to create new places but we are pushing against the limits now."

He said buses with a capacity to carry 1,000 people north to cities like Dortmund, Hamburg, Braunschweig and Kiel had been made available, but that migrants had also been streaming out of temporary accommodation facilities on foot.

"It`s not possible to think any longer about registering people at all," Hillenbrand said.

Germany has said it expects 800,000 people to seek asylum there this year, far more than any other EU country and nearly four times as many as last year.

Merkel has been praised by human rights groups for her decision -- in response to a growing humanitarian crisis in Hungary -- to temporarily ignore European rules which state that migrants must register for asylum in the first EU country where they arrive.

But over the weekend there were signs of dissent within her conservative camp, with officials from the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) criticising her handling of the crisis.

"There is no society that could cope with something like this," said CSU leader and Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer said. "The federal government needs a plan here."

At a meeting of leaders from Merkel`s coalition government on Sunday night, it was agreed that 6 billion euros in additional funds would be freed up for refugees and migrants.