Der Spiegel reports: Evrim, a refugee from the ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, has wrapped herself in a wool blanket, her red sweatshirt no longer offering sufficient protection against the cold. The young woman with dyed-blonde hair would rather spend the night in front of Vienna’s Westbahnhof Station than sleep in an emergency shelter. She is planning on taking the very first train to Germany the next morning.
“We heard that Germany has closed the border,” Evrim says. But she doesn’t really want to believe it. She heard the news from Mohammed, who is also from Aleppo and is part of the group of 15 Kurds from Syria she is traveling with. The group coalesced on the refugee trail, which leads from Turkey across the Western Balkans to Hungary and beyond. Mohammed, for his part, heard the news from a British journalist who had interviewed the group in the early evening right after they crossed into Austria from Hungary. “Maybe he misunderstood (the journalist),” Evrim says.
But he wasn’t mistaken. On Sunday evening, Germany introduced temporary border controls along its frontier with Austria in response to the massive numbers of refugees that have been making their way to Germany in recent weeks. Officials from Germany’s 16 states sounded the alarm back on Thursday, warning that refugee hostels were full and that they could no longer process the huge numbers of newcomers.
The temporary border controls — which could last as long as two weeks, according to Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, who spoke on public radio on Monday morning — are intended to give Germany a chance to catch its breath while at the same time ratcheting up the pressure on other European Union member states to accept a quota system for the distribution of asylum recipients across the bloc. EU interior ministers are meeting on Monday to try to find a solution. [Continue reading…]