Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Germany Grapples With Surge of Migrants From Kosovo

Anti-Immigration rally in Dresden January 2015
Officials Forced to House Asylum Seekers in Emergency Shelters, From Public Gyms to a Stadium
Germany— Valmir Sahiti, 25 years old, has spent the last two weeks living in a nursing home in the long-shot hope of a new life.
Mr. Sahiti, an asylum-seeker from Kosovo, is staying with five relatives in a makeshift refugee center set up on several turquoise-carpeted empty floors of the home. He says he is aware the German authorities may soon send him back, but he insists the chance to live in Germany is worth the attempt.
“We love Germany,” Mr. Sahiti, a Kosovar Albanian, says. “Albanians have a saying: If God wants it, he will do it.” 
A sudden crush of migrants from Kosovo is straining Germany’s capacity, forcing officials in especially hard-hit Bavaria to house people such as Mr. Sahiti in emergency shelters, from the Germering nursing home to public gyms to the VIP spectator area of Munich’s Olympic Stadium. The influx is feeding divisive national debates over immigration, asylum policy and European integration. 
Officials say Kosovars have virtually no chance of being granted asylum because they aren’t fleeing war or persecution. Nevertheless, a surge of close to 20,000 people has arrived from the poor Balkan country by bus, rail, and taxi since around the start of the year, overwhelming government officials already trying to house rising numbers of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. 
Officials struggle to explain the sudden increase, but point to a combination of factors: The draw of Germany’s relatively strong economy and generous welfare benefits, economic desperation in Kosovo, an easing of border crossing rules between Kosovo and longtime foe Serbia, and rumors on social media that it has gotten easier to get asylum.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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