Munich, Germany – German politicians and volunteers accuse the Bavarian government in southern Germany of intentionally staging chaos in order to put pressure on the federal government in Berlin to limit the numbers of refugees who come to the Central-European country.
The situation in the Southern-German state of Bavaria is alarming and confusing at the same time. While thousands of refugees in Austria are waiting to get into Germany, quite the same number on the other side of the border, are sleeping on the streets, due to the lack of housing opportunities. German border cities like Passau or Lindau are plainly overloaded, but strangely the refugee shelters in the state’s capital Munich, seem to be quite empty.
Speaking to German Focus Online, Agnes Andrae from the Bavarian Refugee Council says: “It just looks like the chaos at the borders is staged by the Bavarian regional government to set the federal government [in Berlin] under pressure and to enforce claims such as transit zones.”
The so-called transit zones are camps in the border regions to Austria, in which the status of refugees is to be determined within days. Law enforcement has to decide if the refugees are coming from so-called safe countries like Kosovo, Albania or Serbia, or from countries and regions in a state of war, like Syria, Iraq or parts of Kurdistan.
In normal conditions these procedures need up to four months and the refugees are allowed to stay in the country during this time. But the Bavarian prime minister, Horst Seehofer, wants the refugee’s statuses to be determined immediately, so that the huge refugee influx can be limited.
Political opponents and volunteers, who work day and night to help their cities and the new arrivals, accuse him of playing a populist game appealing to xenophobic sentiments in the hope of gaining more popular support for his conservative party.
“Although I generally vote for the conservatives, I don’t like Mr. Seehofers populist ramblings. He plays with the people’s fears and thereby causes a huge xenophobic mood in the state of Bavaria and in the whole country,” says Diako Shekhan, a Kurd who lives in Bavarian Nuremberg.
Referring to the accusations against the Bavarian government Thomas Ahorn, a volunteer who helped refugees for years, says: “We are way better organized in cities like Munich, Nuremberg or Wurzburg. Especially in Munich there is a huge knowledge on how to help refugees, both with food and shelter, but also with legal aid. But I think the latter one isn’t desired by some politicians, and that’s why they overload the cities at the border and don’t let the refugees come to Munich.”
In the last months, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Africa, the Middle East and the Balkan arrived in Germany to escape poverty and war in their homelands. But those who are emigrating for economic reasons are not allowed to stay in Germany according to the law. Some conservative and far-right parties are accused of planning to abuse this law and use it against refugees from war-torn countries.
By implementing the transit zones officials will not have enough time to check the refugee’s backgrounds. In the worst case people from Syria, Iraq and war-torn regions of Kurdistan, could be sent back, because their information was not checked properly. This procedure gained popularity under the far-right groups, especially after refugee number estimates were raised to 1.5 million until end of December.