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Germany to start border controls in response to refugee crisis

Austria’s state-owned rail operator is stopping all trains into the country.

Image: Matthias Schrader/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 6am

GERMANY IS TO temporarily reintroduce controls on its border with Austria to cope with a surge of refugee arrivals, it was announced over the weekend.

“The aim of this measure is to stop the current influx to Germany and to return to an orderly process,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

Asylum seekers must understand “they cannot chose the states where they are seeking protection”, he told reporters.

The move appears to backtrack on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s earlier decision to throw open the country’s doors to Syrian refugees.

Austria’s state-owned rail operator also announced that all trains into the neighbouring EU state would be halted today.

Germany has become the destination of choice for many refugees and the country is expecting to receive a record 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

Meanwhile, another tragedy struck at sea today when 28 more people – half of them babies and children – drowned off the coast of Greece.

Four babies and 10 young children were among the 112 people onboard a boat when it sank in the Aegean Sea, Athens News Agency reported.

The International Organisation for Migration said on Friday that over 430,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with 2,748 dying en route or going missing.

Irish response

It was confirmed earlier this week that Ireland will take in 4,000 refugees in response to the crisis, with priority being given to women and children.

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A series of reception and accommodation centres will be opened around the country as part of a refugee protection programme announced on Thursday.

State property under the care of the Defence Forces and OPW will be audited to assess what vacant buildings could be used to house refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

In an interview today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the Irish government will likely not house refugees relocated to Ireland in the homes of private citizens.

“I don’t envision a situation where refugees will be housed in spare rooms,” he said this morning on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, adding that he did not think the arrangement would be appropriate.

Over 6,000 people have offered to house refugees and migrants here in a “pledge a bed” campaign organised by advocacy organisation Uplift.

First published 1:41pm. Contains reporting by AFP. 

Read: Over 6,000 people pledge to home refugees as humanitarian crisis worsens

Read: A Syrian living in Ireland thinks taking in 4,000 refugees is too little, too late

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Catherine Healy

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