Migrants overwhelm Munich
MUNICH—Authorities in Munich have said they are overwhelmed by the influx of migrants streaming into the Bavarian capital, as Europe-wide protests saw tens of thousands take to the streets in both support of and opposition to refugees.
More than 10,000 migrants arrived in Munich on Saturday, leading regional officials to sound the alarm and urge other areas in Germany—seen as the promised land by many of those seeking safe haven in Europe—to pull their weight.
Meanwhile, divisions in Europe were evident on the streets, with tens of thousands marching through London waving placards saying “Refugee lives matter”, while in Eastern European capitals protesters called for refugees to “go home”.
Germany has so far taken the lion’s share of migrants, admitting 450,000 people this year, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to relax asylum rules for Syrians drawing praise from the refugees, but also sharp criticism from domestic allies and counterparts abroad.
“We no longer know what to do with refugees,” Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter said, amid fears many of the new arrivals would have to spend the night outdoors.
“Munich and Bavaria can’t overcome this great challenge alone,” a spokeswoman for the Bavarian authorities said, adding the city was struggling to find shelter for all the additional people.
As the newcomers arrived, some onlookers at Munich station held welcome signs to greet them. But there were far fewer than several days ago when cheering volunteers handed out groceries and children’s toys.
As the continent scrambles to respond to the biggest movement of people since World War II, sharp divisions have emerged between the European Union’s 28 member states, at both government level and on the streets.
At the London rally, Britain’s newly elected Labor Party leader and veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn drew huge cheers when he addressed the crowd from the back of a truck.
“Open your hearts and open your minds,” the opposition chief said, “towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society, and are human beings just like all of us.”
A boy dressed as Paddington Bear—the marmalade-loving migrant who arrived at London’s Paddington Station from “deepest, darkest Peru” in Michael Bond’s famous books—clutched a sign saying: “Paddington Bear Was A Refugee”.