Why do European countries accept refugees

The first countries in the EU are accepting refugees

After the major fire in the Greek refugee camp Moria, Germany and France want to take in more underage migrants - if possible together with other EU countries. She asked Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to take over, said Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on Thursday during a discussion with the chairman of the European People's Party, Donald Tusk, in Berlin. Merkel did not give a specific number of how many people Germany will take in. Meanwhile, Greece had already flown 400 minors traveling unaccompanied by their parents from the island of Lesbos to the port city of Thessaloniki by Thursday.

Merkel said she hoped that other EU member states would also take part in taking in the minor refugees. She also discussed with Mitsotakis that immediate help should be given to ensure new and better accommodation for the people affected by the fire. "It cannot stay that way, and Germany will take part," said the Chancellor.

Admission of refugees remains controversial

After the fires in the Greek refugee camp Moria on the island of Lesbos, almost 13,000 people there are without accommodation. Germany and France have announced that they will take in refugee minors. The Netherlands have also agreed to accept 100 people. In Austria, however, the inclusion is still highly controversial. The ÖVP is strictly against it, the Greens would like to, but fail because of the coalition discipline.

The Netherlands also announced, surprisingly, that they would take 100 people from the burned down refugee camp. So far, the government of the right-wing liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte has strictly refused to accept refugees from Greece. The state secretary responsible Ankie Broekers-Knol justified the change of course in a letter to parliament. “In this particular situation, the government believes that extraordinary steps are necessary.” The Netherlands wants to take in young people and families with children. Rutte is a close confidante of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) at EU level.

Kogler criticizes "cynicism"

Chancellor Kurz and his ÖVP continue to reject such admission. The Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, nominated by the ÖVP, also operates on this line. In an interview with ZIB2 on Wednesday evening, he literally spoke of “shouting for distribution”. When asked whether it wasn't cynical when thousands of people, including hundreds of children, were without shelter, Schallenberg said: "It's always only about a few hundred children."

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For the coalition partner, this attitude obviously causes more than just stomach ache. On Thursday - after the first critical comments from his party - the Green leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler finally spoke up. "I expect more European spirit and more humanity and less cynicism," said Kogler in the "Standard". "If Germany's Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and France's President (Emmanuel) Macron and even the Bavarian Prime Minister (Markus) Söder take in children, then Austria can too," said Kogler.

Reference to talks in the coalition

In the ZIB2 on Thursday evening, the Green Club chairwoman Sigrid Maurer said that they were talking to the coalition partner. Previously, however, both the Chancellery and the ÖVP parliamentary club had said, when asked by the ZIB2, that the Greens would not approach the ÖVP. Maurer contradicted this. The topic was addressed by Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) on Wednesday in the Council of Ministers. The ÖVP is obviously already fully in the Vienna election campaign. “Unfortunately, we're biting into granite,” says Maurer.

Interview with club chairwoman Maurer (Greens)

Sigrid Maurer, the Greens' club chairwoman, talks about the debate about accepting refugees from the Moria camp in Greece.

The Greens' foreign policy spokeswoman, Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, had previously announced that she would enter into dialogue with the ÖVP, even if the fronts had hardened. "The fact is, we currently don't have a majority in parliament," said Ernst-Dziedzic. Even if the Greens were to vote with the opposition parties SPÖ and NEOS and thus against their coalition partner - i.e. break the coalition - they would only get 81 votes together, while the ÖVP and the FPÖ get 101 votes in the National Council.

The Greens had been accused from many sides - including in social networks - of breaking into the issue in front of their coalition partners. The red-green Viennese city government repeated its appeal to the federal government on Thursday to accept 100 refugee children from Moria on Lesbos - more on this in wien.ORF.at.

Van der Bellen: "Great, now to do the right thing"

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen also reported on Thursday. He indirectly requested the admission of refugees from Moria. “Our Europe should be a continent of peace & human rights. It is shocking that in this, our common Europe, thousands of people, stranded on the run from war, persecution and torture, have to live in inhumane conditions for years. And now they have lost this 'shelter' too, ”wrote Van der Bellen.

The Federal President referred to Austria's long and great tradition of helping people in need. “Refugees in Moria and especially children without parents need our help now. I am confident that Europe and Austria have the size and humanity to do the right thing. It is precisely those moments that show us what Europe we live in, ”said the head of state.

Also SPÖ and NEOS for the admission of children

On Thursday, the SPÖ and NEOS also spoke out in favor of admitting children from the camp. “Anyone who wants to let children go to waste is violating the values ​​of Austria and Europe. Moria is a shame and reveals the cowardice and small-mindedness of some European governments to leave children in misery instead of providing quick help and solutions, "said SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner.

NEOS relied on actionism and invited to a staging in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The call for people to be accepted was supported by several local aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Caritas and the Red Cross. The Bishops' Conference also spoke up on Thursday and called on the government to take part in the reception of refugees from the burned down camp - more on this in religion.ORF.at.

"No short-term phenomena"

The Greek government announced Thursday afternoon that migrants themselves had started the major fire. "The fire was started by people who have applied for asylum - in response to the quarantine (in Moria) due to the coronavirus," said Conservative government spokesman Stelios Petsas on Thursday. These are people who “do not respect their host country,” said Petsas. Before the escalation, 35 people in the camp tested positive for the coronavirus.

Comparison between September 4th and September 9th. The warehouse is in the center of the picture.

On Thursday night, fire broke out in the Moria refugee camp for the second time in a row, this time in a part of the camp that was only slightly affected by the previous fire disaster. The facility, which at that time housed around 12,700 people, was largely destroyed on Wednesday night. According to new information from the authorities, at least 3,500 refugees were still homeless on Wednesday evening.

Moria is seen as a negative example of European refugee policy and the largest refugee camp in the EU. Moria actually only offered space for around 2,800 people, but was hopelessly overcrowded with a multiple of it. In the past few years there had been repeated riots and small fires.