The German government is toughening its refugee policy as Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has threatened to withdraw aid from North African countries in case they don’t make a repatriate agreement with Germany.
“Germany is more than willing to give economic aid to North Africa, but only when the governments there reciprocate by allowing people whose asylum applications have been rejected to travel back into the country,” Gabriel, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), told public broadcaster ARD.
The statement by Gabriel, comes weeks after the New Year’s Eve Cologne sexual attacks which caused a public outrage in Germany. According to witnesses most of the attacks were carried out by “men of North African appearance.” However, prosecutors hasn’t confirm the nationality of the attackers yet.
On the other hand, on Sunday, the German police arrested 40 migrants in Düsseldorf after major police raids in the city’s “Maghreb” neighborhood. Maghreb is the name for the North African region and includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
The Local Germany reported that the German government is trying for weeks to expel Algerians and Moroccans, saying their countries of origin were unwilling to make a repatriation agreement with Germany.
According to the Local, since the summer the number of people from the Maghreb -seeking asylum in Germany has swelled as in August only 1,500 Algerians and Moroccans sought asylum in Germany and by December that number had risen to 5,300.
German Transport Minister calls Merkel to shut down borders
In the meantime, German Transport Minister, Alexander Dobrindt called German Chancellor Angela Merkel to consider the possibility of closing down Germany’s border to stop the refugee influx.
According to the British daily, The Guardian, Dobrindt, a member of the Conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper: “We must prepare ourselves for not being able to avoid border closures.” Dobrindt added that Germany could no longer carry the burden of accepting most of the refugees entering Europe and since the EU is unable to find a solution, the German government needs to proceed at unilateral actions.
Regarding the North African migrants, CSU – the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union- demands from the German government to categorize Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as “safe countries of origin” meaning that they will no longer be accepted as refugees.