Germany has re-introduced controls at its southern border with Austria to check the influx of migrants. The country says it is stretched beyond limits and is not equipped to deal with the record number of migrants walking in.
The border control measures will be implemented with immediate effect as Munich alone recorded an influx of 63,000 asylum seekers in the last two weeks.
“The aim of this measure is to stop the current influx to Germany and to return to an orderly process,” said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
Asylum-seekers must understand “they cannot choose the states where they are seeking protection,” de Maiziere told reporters in Munich.
Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy, has become the destination of choice for many, particularly for Syrians after Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to relax asylum rules for citizens of the war-torn country.
Local authorities in Germany, which had earned praise for its welcoming stance towards refugees, have buckled under the sudden surge of migrants.
“Given the numbers from yesterday, it is very clear that we have reached the upper limit of our capacity,” said a Munich police spokesman on Sunday.
European Union (EU) officials are expected to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the deeply divisive European Commission plans to introduce compulsory quotas for refugees.
“The German decision of today underlines the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis,” the EU said.
Under EU rules, the first country of entry is required to deal with an asylum-seeker’s request for protection, but Germany had waived the rule for Syrian refugees.
Not just Germany, the Czech Republic too announced similar measures for its the border with Austria.
Meanwhile in Greece, in a bid to enter Europe, 34 people died when their overcrowded boat capsized off the Aegean island of Farmakonisi. The coastguard reported that there were 4 babies and 11 other children among those who drowned.
Such tragedies continue to occur in the high seas. About two weeks ago, the body of a Syrian toddler named Aylan Kurdi was washed up on a Turkish beach after his boat capsized soon after it left Turkey. Aylan’s photograph, lying head down on the beach created shock waves across the world. And it soon became a symbol of the current refugee crisis, forcing authorities to take action.
(With inputs from PTI)