In a surprise move today, Germany has announced that it is reversing current policy with regard to refugees entering the country from Austria.  While Germany continues to accept refugees, the border controls are designed to instill some order to the process.  Adam Withnall, writing for The Independent, reports:

Germany has reintroduced border controls with Austria, its interior minister has confirmed, halting all trains and deploying 2,100 riot police to help carry out checks.

Speaking at a press conference called at short notice, Thomas de Maizière said the controls were being applied with immediate effect “to bring some order to the entry of refugees”.

. . . . A spokesperson for an Austrian rail company said German officials had begun halting all trains trying to cross the border into Bavaria from 5pm local time (4pm BST), while the situation involving traffic going the other way remained unclear.

Reporting on the unexpected move earlier and citing unnamed officials, German daily Bild said the closing of the border represented “a dramatic shift in refugee policy”.

Der Spiegel reported that only those with “valid travel documents” would be allowed to enter the country from Austria “until further notice”.

This move is designed to slow the influx of refugees, not to stop it, with the hope apparently being that this will send a signal to potential refugees who are still in Syria, Iraq, and other countries affected by ISIS.  The hope is also that other European countries will ease some of the refugee burden that Germany accepted voluntarily.  Withnall continues:

At the press conference, said that the focus for border controls would “initially” be on the border with Austria, suggesting they could be extended if necessary.

“This measure is also a signal to all of Europe,” he said. “Germany is taking on its responsibility but, given the burden, there must be a fair distribution across Europe.

“The border controls will not solve everything, we are aware of that, but we have to apply this in order to get some order.

“And we also need to prevent more refugees from coming to Europe from Syria, Iraq and other countries.”

Refugees have been swarming into Germany.  Watch:

The sudden move to place border controls on the Austrian border was apparently spurred when Munich reached the limits of its capacity to take in more refugees.

Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, said earlier on Sunday that the city had reached its “upper limit” of capacity for housing refugees.

He said Munich was short around by around “1,000 to 5,000” spaces, adding that while the city was serious about welcoming those in need, it had reached the end of its limited resources.


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