Germany’s welcoming attitude to the refugees is fading fast following the New Year’s Eve attacks on women in Cologne, according to the new research.
The angry scenes are a far cry from the summer, when Angela Merkel lifted asylum restrictions for Syrian refugees – a decision that led to the arrival of 1.1 million migrants and asylum seekers last year and was credited in part for making the Chancellor Time’s Person of the Year.
Her slogan – “wir schaffen das” – meaning “we can do this”, has faded with a series of reversals by the Government, which has now reintroduced border controls and is sending hundreds of refugees back to Austria every day.
Recently, it’s reported that Seven Somalian refugees trying to leave the country by boat are thought to have died after they were reportedly thrown overboard by human traffickers in Italy.
The seven, who were understood to be among a group of more than 40 people, were said to be enroute from Greece.
About 320,000 boat migrants have been accepted into Italy since the start of 2014.
More than a million migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, most of them refugees fleeing war and violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
At least 3,692 migrants and refugees from across the Middle East and north Africa have died attempting to make the crossing, according to a count by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
“Refugees welcome”, the summer’s other defining slogan, is also heard less and less as attitudes harden following the police’s announcement that migrants were largely responsible for the mass sexual assaults and robberies seen on New Year’s Eve.
Research by YouGov for Germany’s Bild newspaper demonstrates the shift. In November, only a slim majority said the arrival figures were two high while 42 percent said they were acceptable and a fifth of respondents said the country could welcome more refugees.
German women are more likely than men to oppose the current level of migration, which had not previously been the case, and the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults are believed to be the main reason for a 12-point jump.
In response to the alleged assault and robbery of at least 600 victims in Cologne, Ms Merkel has proposed new measures to deny the right of asylum for those who have committed crimes or are on probation in response to calls for change.
Only asylum seekers who have been sentenced to at least three years’ imprisonment and will not be at risk in their countries of origin can currently be forcibly deported under German law.
On the other hand, the actor Alan Rickman who died at the age of 69 surrounded by his family and friends in London was working on a final project with students trying to make a video go viral to raise money for the refugee crisis.
In it, Rickman spoke over a video of a tortoise nibbling on a strawberry and explained that each click generates revenue, which is in turn donated to charities supporting the refugee crisis.
“We’re trying to make a viral video to help refugees,” he says. “We’re slowly gathering views as this tortoise munches away.”
The ultimate film villain, he gathered countless of fans for his stern, unnerving portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series and in films such as Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Germany has welcomed at least 800,000 refugees throughout 2015 and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the country could accept another 500,000 a year for the next few years.
The UK is accepting Syrian 4,000 refugees every year for five years, David Cameron has said – amounting to 20,000 in total.
Image Source: Reuters.