German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, attend a meeting of the German Federal Parliament in Berlin on Sept. 8.(Photo: AP)
BERLIN — German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that his country would be able to give safe harbor to at least 500,000 asylum seekers a year for the next few years.
His announcement came as countries across Europe stepped up efforts this week to contain a migration crisis that is seeing thousands of people arrive on the continent every day with no coordinated strategy on how to deal with them.
“I believe we could certainly deal with something in the order of a half-million for a few years,” Gabriel said Monday night in an interview with Germany’s public ZDF television. “I have no doubt about it — maybe even more.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will likely outline policy proposals for dealing with the flood of migrants on Wednesday, when he delivers his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The influx of people escaping war and poverty in the Middle East, north Africa and other nations is the largest Europe has faced since World War II.
Among the proposals that Junker may discuss, according to the Financial Times:
A quota system for the number of migrants each of the 28 European Union nations should take, based on size, economic health and current refugee intake. Germany, with the largest economy, currently takes far more refugees than any other EU country.
Emergency relocation for thousands of refugees whose first port of call is Greece or Italy to ease the burden those countries face under current rules that require asylum claims to be handled in the first EU state a migrant reaches.
Aid targeted at factors that drive migration in economically deprived locations across Africa.
Creation of “transit zones” so that applicants that be more easily tracked as they move across borders.
The United Nations Refugee Agency released new figures Tuesday showing that it expected 400,000 migrants to reach Europe this year by sea, with 80% of those arrivals coming from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
So far this year, 2,850 people have died or are missing as a result of migrants “taking their chances aboard unseaworthy boats …Read More