Merkel′s deputy: Germany must give refugee-hosting cities more | News | DW | 23.12.2017
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Merkel's deputy: Germany must give refugee-hosting cities more

Towns should not have to decide whether "to integrate refugees or renovate their swimming pool," said Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Otherwise, he said, using resources to help refugees could foster resentment.

German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday told German publisher Funke Mediengruppe that the federal government must increase financial support for cities that take in refugees to prevent growing anti-migrant sentiment.

"Municipalities should not face the decision whether to integrate refugees or renovate their swimming pool. Instead, the federal government must give them the opportunity to do both," said Gabriel, who also serves as foreign minister.

Read more: Germany's empty refugee shelters: Sensible backup or waste of money?

Refugee integration has been a stumbling block in talks aimed at forming a government in the wake of divisive elections that took place in September. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party made its debut in parliament this year, riding on a wave of anti-migrant sentiment.

"We can also prevent citizens getting the impression: Everything is done for refugees, but nothing for us," added Gabriel, whose Social Democratic Party (SPD) witnessed one of its worst electoral performances during the September elections.

Germany is 'what America was'

For many of the refugees, Germany is "what America was in the 19th century – a place of longing," Gabriel said. However, Germany cannot "fulfill all longings."

Since 2015, Germany has received more than one million refugees as part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy for those fleeing armed conflict, most notably in Syria.

In order to adequately integrate one million refugees, Gabriel said the country needs an additional 25,000 teachers and 15,000 nursery school teachers, along with thousands of new homes.

Read more: How refugees are settling into Germany, two years on

"We have to reward cities and communities for taking in refugees," Gabriel said. "The costs of integration should be replaced by the federal government."

Gabriel's Social Democrats are currently in exploratory coalition talks with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

ls/rc (dpa, AFP, KNA)

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