Refugee welcome ′stretched to capacity′ | News | DW | 13.09.2015
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Refugee welcome 'stretched to capacity'

Doctors say refugees reaching Hungary's Röszke camp face unhygienic filth as Germany's Munich awaits thousands more arrivals. If Hungary closes its border, will Croatia become the next conduit?

German authorities warned Sunday their staff and volunteers were stretched to capacity in welcoming some 450,000 so far this year.

An European Commission plan to distribute asylum seekers across the EU is likely to lead to heated interior minister' talks in Brussels on Monday.

Munich, Germany's main entry station on the train route from Hungary via Austria, took in at least 3,000 newcomers on Sunday after accommodating 13,000 on Saturday night.

German Rail had had to forward refugees to Berlin on a regular ICE express and rebook customers on other services, according to Upper Bavarian regional head administrator Christoph Hillenbrand.

Hillenbrand said he did not know any longer "how to cope," according to Sunday's tabloid Bild am Sonntag. On Friday, Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter had appealed to Germany's 16 regional states for joint help.

Flüchtlinge Hbf München Sonderzug Dortmund

Refugees bound from Munich to Dortmund

On Sunday morning, a special train with 500 refugees left Munich bound for Dortmund in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

'Very close' to disaster

Bavarian BR public television said just a few dozen asylum seekers were left sleeping on floor mattresses in Munich overnight into Sunday after the regional capital "came very close to a humanitarian disaster."

Munich police said the "upper limit of our capacity" had been reached as officials considering opening the 1972 Olympic stadium as an extra shelter.

Germany's BKA federal police agency was overloaded with identity checks, amounting to 360,000 fingerprints this year, according to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Bundeswehr: sports off

Germany's Bundeswehr said it had cancelled its sports rally for army reservists to make 1,000 beds available at a barracks in Bavaria's northern town of Roth.

Bavaria's Protestant bishop, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, in an overnight message, urged congregations to open their parish community centers to accommodate refugees.

Bavarian Synod president Annekathrin Priedel said the church's regional assembly planned to make available 20 million euros ($24 million) in emergency funding.

On Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel had called on Greece, still facing its own deep economic crisis, to take more effort to protect the EU's external border with non-member Turkey.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party accused the EU of "complete failure to protect its external borders."

"Effective measures are necessary now to stop the influx," he said.

Röszke conditions endanger pregnant women

Doctors Without Borders' medics at Hungary's fenced arrivals camp at Röszke on the border with Serbia, said the controversial facility still lacked basic sanitation and medical equipment, weeks into the crisis.

The risk of infectious diseases was mounting because the camp lacked "running water and places to wash," said spokeswoman Teresa Sancristobal.

Volunteer Austrian medical student Sarah Schober said many pregnant women were arriving fatigued after weeklong treks from the Middle East.

Hungary plans to defy a UN refugee agency warning and impose new law on Tuesday to criminalize would-be helpers and new arrivals along a 175-kilometer (120 mile) fence border fence still under construction.

New flow via Croatia?

Germany's main news agency DPA speculated on Sunday that should EU member Hungary close its border with Serbia then refugees trekking through the Balkans would head for Croatia.

"The most probable variant runs from Belgrade to EU country Croatia along the key European rail routes linking Istanbul or Athens with Munich," it said.

From Croatia's capital Zagreb, the route leads through Slovenia into Austria's provinces of Carinthia and Styria, it added.

ipj/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa, KNA, EPD)