Dthe storm of indignation was not long in coming. It broke out before the Federal Cabinet ended its virtual session that decided to admit 50 children from Greek refugee camps. Michael Kellner, the federal manager of the Greens, tweeted: “Union and SPD should be ashamed. Cold-hearted instead of solidarity. ”Left-wing chairman Bernd Riexinger complained that 40,000 seasonal workers were allowed to come in for asparagus pricks, but only 50 refugee children. “Asparagus over human life. No punch line. ”The organization Pro Asyl also spoke of an“ alibi act by the Federal Government ”that was“ absolutely inadequate ”.
In fact, the number of 50 children is well below the order of magnitude that was first mentioned in Berlin. On March 8, the coalition agreed that Germany would participate in the admission of a total of 1,000 to 1,500 children if they were distributed to several countries in Europe. The German part is not expressly found in the coalition decision; around 400 minors were mentioned at the time. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wanted it to be quick. At a meeting of EU interior ministers in mid-March, the procedure for distributing children should be tightened. The only condition of the federal government was: no German going it alone.
Fear of corona is growing in the refugee camps
Paris agreed to accept 400 people, children with their parents. The Finnish Parliament decided to accept 175 minors. Luxembourg, Portugal, Ireland, Lithuania and Belgium also wanted to participate. There were also positive signals from Croatia and Bulgaria. There were commitments from the Member States for 1,600 particularly vulnerable people. But the more the corona virus spread in Europe, the more money and time governments had to spend fighting it, the quieter it became to accept refugees. First, some countries, including France, corrected the number of children, then postponed concrete steps until the epidemiological situation improved. Only Luxembourg was determined and agreed directly with Athens to take over twelve children. A “coalition of the willing” was imagined differently in Berlin.
In view of the risk that the corona virus could spread to the overcrowded camps, the pressure on the federal government increased. In the coalition, the view prevailed that a first step must now be taken. The suggestion to admit 96 sick children was circulated in the Union faction – that is how many the aid organization “Doctors Without Borders” has in the camps. But since this number could not be confirmed by other parties, the Federal Ministry of the Interior did not want to rely on it. The United Nations Refugee Agency has already prepared dossiers for 62 minors in the camps, a kind of personnel file that is necessary for the resettlement. Since twelve children are to be brought to Luxembourg, 50 remain for Germany, which could come immediately. On Tuesday, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) agreed with representatives of the coalition groups on this number. His spokesman stressed on Wednesday that this was only a “first step”. A total of 300 to 500 children could come.
Union and SPD politicians expressed satisfaction, but the emphasis was on different aspects. “After tough negotiations, the SPD made the breakthrough,” wrote SPD domestic politician Helge Lindh on Twitter. The 50 children could “just be the beginning”. “Waiting longer is forbidden,” he added. In the Union, on the other hand, it was emphasized that it was now the other Europeans’ turn. “We stand by the coalition decision of March 8, which also agreed that Germany should not go it alone,” said Thorsten Frei, deputy chairman of the Union faction, to this newspaper. Germany is now going ahead. “If the other European countries move along, we too are ready to take further steps. But the next plane may not land alone in Germany again. “