In protest against Germany’s refugee policy, a local Bavarian administrator, Peter Dreier, has sent 31 refugees by bus from his rural district to the chancellery in Berlin. Fabian von der Mark reports.
The bus left the Bavarian town of Landshut at about 10 a.m. on Thursday. On board: 31 Syrian migrants, who, according to the district administrator, all volunteered to go along for the ride. What District Administrator Dreier hopes to achieve with this campaign is, as he puts it, "to make a statement that refugee policy cannot and may not continue this way." The Syrians lived in refugee accommodations in Landshut. They were unable to find ordinary housing, despite official recognition as refugees.
'We can't do it'
The politician, from the conservative Free Voters of Bavaria party, announced his plans in a phone call with Chancellor Angela Merkel on October 28, saying "We can't do it." According to the newspaper "Die Welt," he told her that 1,800 of the one million refugees taken in by Germany would be allotted to his district. He would be ready to accept only this many and every additional person he would send by bus to the chancellery in Berlin.
According to "Die Welt," the chancellor told the district administrator that the refugees would technically then have to be sent back to Greece. However, they would just go running right back to him. Furthermore, Merkel is reported to have requested that were Dreier to take this measure, he inform the chancellery in advance. Peter Dreier was also in contact with two people who are close to the chancellor, his spokesperson told DW.
The refugees want to go to Berlin
Even though the Bavarian politician can count on the support of locals, the Free Voters, and even a few refugees themselves, Bavaria's Minister of Social Affairs Emilie Müller does not want to embrace the bus campaign. "Mr. Dreier is acting here as a private individual and not as district administrator." Even so, Müller mentions the fact that recognized refugees are allowed freedom of movement within Germany, something she views as wrong.
Some of the refugees are said to have friends in Berlin and are apparently happy to trade the Bavarian countryside for the capital. Whether they have already heard about the problems with registration, accommodation and provisions for migrants in Berlin is unclear. Dreier's spokesperson also told DW that if the refugees decide they don't like Berlin, the bus will take them back to Landshut.