Germany will spend around $6.6 billion to cope with some 800,000 migrants and refugees expected to have crossed into the country by the end of 2015, the government said early Monday.
The announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government came after Germany and neighboring Austria threw open their borders to the wave of refugees making their way north and west from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Hungary has been letting the human tide move on after holding it up for days.
“We had to give a strong signal of humanity to show that Europe’s values are valid also in difficult times. Hungary’s handling of the crisis is unbearable,” said Germany’s Secretary-General Yasmin Fahimi.
Firefighters chat with migrants who arrived by train to the main railway station in Munich, Germany on Sunday. MICHAEL DALDER / Reuters
Emotional scenes Germans and Austrians civilians welcomed exhausted migrants arriving in their countries have contrasted starkly with the treatment they had received in Hungary. Budapest sparked outrage after putting migrants in holding camps and a series of confrontations between Hungarian police and refugees were caught on film.
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Germany, Europe’s wealthiest country, also said it would make it easier to deport asylum seekers from countries considered “safe,” such as Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania, to cope with the huge influx from war-torn states like Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.
And on Sunday, a convoy of around 140 cars and vans filled with food and water left Vienna, Austria, to collect exhausted migrants, who had set out to walk the 110-mile stretch through the rain from Hungary’s capital Budapest to the Austrian border.
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Onlookers clapped and chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” as volunteers loaded their vehicles with food, water and soft toys.
Also on Monday, French President Francois Hollande said his country would welcome 24,000 refugees, and that he and Merkel had agreed on a mechanism to spread the migrant load across Europe.
But Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said he wasn’t prepared to pitch in and questioned how any EU quota system for migrants could work. He pledged to push on with the effort to build an impregnable 11.5-foot high barrier on its southern border to keep the migrants out.
Orban’s government has shrugged off the symbolism and Cold War echoes — noted …Read More