Protesters called on European Union states to allow in migrants stuck in Greek camps at a demonstration in Berlin on Sunday before the EU sets out proposals this week on how to help after a fire in one of the camps left 12,000 people without shelter.
The emergency has highlighted Europe’s patchy response to a multi-year crisis that has seen more than a million migrants reach its shores, often on board flimsy vessels, after fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.
After the fire in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on Sept. 9, Germany agreed to take in 1,553 migrants stranded on Greek islands.
But the protesters in central Berlin wanted more action.
Wearing face masks in line with coronavirus regulations, around 5,000 people held up banners with slogans such as ‘We have space! What else has to happen? Evacuate Moria Now!’, ‘Shame on you EU’ and ‘Shelters not Prisons’.
“I find it unacceptable that we live in one of the richest parts of the world and are somehow scared of 15,000 people and there is an eternal discussion about who will help these people,” said demonstrator Oliver Bock.
Despite deep divisions among members, the European Commission is due this week to put forward new proposals on migration. The bloc has failed to agree a common asylum policy five years after Merkel allowed 1.2 million people seeking protection into Germany.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Bild am Sonntag weekly that he had high hopes.
“I expect the EU Commission to come up with a solid proposal that pulls out all the stops so we have a political agreement on European asylum policy by the end of the year,” Seehofer told the paper. He added that he expected no more than 100,000 migrants to arrive in Germany this year.