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Bavaria to open Balkan refugee center

September 1, 2015

Bavaria is set to open Germany’s first registration center specifically for asylum seekers from Balkan countries. The move is meant to send migrants from "safe" countries back home as soon as possible.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Büttner

The center was scheduled to open its doors at 11 am local time (1000 UTC) on Tuesday in a disused army barracks near the city of Ingolstadt. Authorities expect around 500 migrants from eastern Europe to be housed there as they await deportation, on the grounds that they have no right to claim asylum in Germany.

A total of about 1,500 would-be refugees are expected to pass through the center, and two others like it, in the near future. Every responsible government agency and office has prepared for close collaboration so that the Balkan migrants can be sent back to their countries of origin quickly.

Of Germany's nearly 200,000 asylum applications received between the beginning of January and the end of July 2015, 15.3 percent, or around 30,000 of those applications came from Kosovo alone, according to government statistics. Another 15 percent came from Albania and arround 6 percent from Serbian nationals.

The ruling CSU (Christian Socialist Union), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU (Christian Democratic Union), has plans to erect the second center just for Balkan asylum seekers near the city of Bamberg in the coming months. The CSU has refused to back down on the plan since deciding upon it in July, despite criticism from the rest of the country.

The move comes as hundreds of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries arrived in Rosenheim, on Bavaria's border with Austria. The euphoric refugees, who made it through Hungary and Austria by train, shouted "we love you, Germany," and "thank you, Germany," upon arrival.

Rosenheim migrants will not be sent to Hungary

Although the Dublin Regulation requires that all asylum seekers be processed in the European Union country in which they first arrive, Bavaria's interior minister Joachim Hermann announced on Tuesday morning in an interview with Germany's broadcaster ZDF that there was no intention to send these refugees back to Hungary. He said he could not see why Budapest had suddenly allowed the multitudes of waiting asylum seekers to suddenly rush to Germany, but that he and federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière were keen for an explanation from the Hungarian government.

Hermann also defended the decision to open registration centers for Balkan migrants, most of whom come from countries that have been declared "safe" by the federal government, as a matter of "efficiency."

Europe is currently grappling with the largest movement of human populations since World War II. Germany expects an overwhelming 800,000 refugees to enter its borders within 2015.

es/kms (AFP, dpa, epd)