German leader says once wars in Syria, Iraq are over, she expects majority of refugees to go back.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she expected most of the refugees from Syria and Iraq to return home once peace has returned to their countries, as she faces strong pressure over her welcoming stance towards asylum seekers.
Merkel’s open-door policy, while initially winning praise last year, has come under mounting criticism, especially after the German city of Cologne was rocked by a wave of sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve blamed on migrants. “We expect that once peace has returned to Syria, once the Islamic State has been defeated in Iraq, that they will return to their countries of origin, armed with the knowledge they acquired with us,” Merkel said a regional gathering of her Christian Democrats party in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, according to news agency DPA. She cited the refugees from former Yugoslavia as an example, saying that 70 percent of those who arrived in Germany in the 1990s returned home once it was safe to do so.
Germany took in more than 1.1 million asylum seekers last year and more are arriving on a daily basis, despite the hardening mood among Germans.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German weekly Der Spiegel Saturday that on average, 2,000 migrants had entered Germany per day in January, which “projected over a year would still be very many—too many.”
With discontent growing over the influx, acts of violence against migrants have been on the increase in Germany. In a shocking first, a hand grenade was hurled at a shelter for asylum seekers in the Black Forest town of Villingen-Schwenningen on Friday. It did not explode and no damage or injuries were reported.
Germany’s euro-skeptic, right-wing Alternative for Germany party caused an uproar Saturday by suggesting that border police should, “if need be,” threaten to shoot migrants seeking to enter the country illegally.