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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, December 15, 2017

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Germans welcome first group of an expected 10,000 migrants in Munich

Migrants arrived in Munich

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MUNICH, Germany - The first 450 Syrian refugees in the first group of an 10,000 migrants arrived in Munich Saturday after an arduous journey through Hungary and Austria.

Residents of the city turned out in large numbers to welcome them, many applauding and offering sweets as the exhausted migrants arrived on a special train service.

The plight of the Syrian refugees has highlighted the EU's inadequate procedures in dealing with a surge of asylum seekers from the war-torn country and the conflict-ridden North American nation of Libya.

Earlier this week, Budapest's main train station descended into chaos as Hungary blocked refugees from travelling onwards to Germany.

Many migrants didn't want to be taken to camps in Hungary to register for asylum, insisting they wanted to travel on to Germany and Austria, which are traditionally far more welcoming of refugees and have a better track record of integrating them.

Crowds broke through security lines and began walking 175km (108 miles) to the border on live television, many with small children.

Hungary, which had closed its border with Austria, came under immense pressure from across the continent and eventually opened the border crossings. Austria says it has put in place plans to received some 10,000 people by the end of Saturday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany can cope with the influx of newcomers, without raising taxes or jeopardising its budget. In fact, it has been suggested that Germany, which has an ageing population, is actually in need of young workers.

Austria's interior ministry said on Saturday that it will not limit the number of migrants crossing its borders. A spokesperson for the government said the country was dealing with an influx of people from "crisis regions" who were "desperate".

Despite more than 350,000 migrants having crossed the EU's borders in 2015 alone, however, there is no sign of a coordinated response from the regional bloc and Germany and Austria have found themselves in opposition to less welcoming eastern countries such as Hungary.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief said Saturday that Europe's migrant crisis is "here to stay" and nations must act together to deal with it effectively, his comments came after "difficult" talks with foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

The European Commission has backed Germany's calls for a quota system for dividing the people reaching Europe between member states. But this has been opposed by several eastern members, such as Hungary.

Hungary on Saturday said that while it has temporarily relaxed restrictions on the transit of asylum seekers, it would press ahead with plans to tighten border controls, which may include positioning troops on its southern border.> BNN

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