"Things need to change"

Situation in Moria "Things need to change"

With a view to the situation in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the urgency of agreeing on a common European migration policy. Germany and France have launched an initiative to support the Greek government. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) has already brought camp beds, sleeping bags and tents to Greece.

Chancellor Angela Merkel during a panel discussion in Berlin

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken about the situation in Moria.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Moria "we can see all the problems of migration we have been dealing with since 2015 converging," stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel at the event hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of German reunification. She reported that the Greek Prime Minister had requested support. "He specially requested that we take in the under-eighteens who have now also been transferred to the Greek mainland." It is equally important to ensure new, better accommodation for the people on the ground, underlined Angela Merkel. "Things need to change, and Germany will do its bit."

Migration is not just the problem of the countries where the people arrive, nor is it only a German problem, because Germany holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It needs to become far more a European responsibility, said Angela Merkel. The German government will fight for this.

The German government supports the plans of the European Commission for a migration compact. It is grateful that the Commission has launched another attempt and will be presenting its proposals, said Merkel. The European Commission is to publish its plans for the migration compact on 23 September. "We cannot be satisfied with a European migration policy. Basically we have no such policy at the moment," she declared. "If that does not change it is a heavy burden for Europe." Germany will use its Presidency of the Council of the European Union to make progress in this area, she added.

"Germany is ready to provide support to put up a new reception centre for refugees on Lesbos," stressed the Chancellor on Monday. The Greek government has expressed the idea that a new centre "would not be a purely Greek responsibility, but could be operated as a more European responsibility". Angela Merkel expressed her support for this proposal. "I think this is a really important step on the road to moving migration policy more to the European level."

German assistance on the way

Speaking on Friday in Berlin, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer underscored the importance of taking swift action to put in place decent conditions for the people on the ground. "This evening we have already sent off 1,400 camp beds, 400 sleeping bags and tents for up to 1,000 people," added State Secretary Helmut Teichmann. But that is only the start. The ministry, he said, is examining how Greece can be further assisted.

The German government has so far taken in a total of 465 refugees from the Greek islands –   152 unaccompanied minors or children in need of treatment with their core family, meaning that Germany has taken in the largest contingent. In addition to this, there are already plans to take in 243 children and young people in need of treatment along with about 685 family members. More flights should be coming from Greece in the near future.