Refugee boats should be sent back to Africa, according to Bavarian allies of Merkel’s party

Refugees arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean should be sent back to Africa, and the current migrant policy must end, Germany’s CSU party, a junior partner in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, demanded in a leaked policy paper.

“The existing policy of automatically bringing to Europe all people rescued in the Mediterranean must be broken,” Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) urged in an internal paper seen by the Rheinische Post daily. 

“This is the only way to stop organized crime on the Mediterranean,” the document asserts. It also calls for enhanced cooperation with North African countries to persuade them to take back the migrants.

The paper comes less than two weeks after a terrorist attack in Berlin, in which Tunisian national Anis Amri rammed a truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 48.

The suspect, believed to be inspired by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) reportedly came to Europe via Italy, and was subject to deportation at least twice. Amri’s case has once again sparked heated debate in Germany, with many criticizing Chancellor Merkel’s ‘open-door’ refugee policy.

The CSU has long criticized the government’s approach towards immigration, which has allowed about 1.1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere into Germany since 2015. Worried about losing popular support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the CSU championed a number of measures to stem the flow of migrants into the country.

In the Thursday paper, the Bavarian conservative party suggested that people coming to Germany across the border should only be allowed in if their identities can be proven. “Whoever does not submit a passport or cannot prove his or her identity must be stopped short at the German borders and placed in transit centers until the identity is clarified,” the memo added.

Earlier in September, the CSU lashed out at the multi-culturalism policy promoted by Merkel’s cabinet, arguing instead for promotion of the so-called ‘dominant culture’ or Leitkultur – a measure, the party insisted, which would safeguard Germany’s Christian identity and diminish the emergence of “parallel societies and ghettos.” 

Merkel’s government has recently promised to speed up deportation of rejected asylum-seekers from Tunisia – an apparent reference to Amri’s origin. “Our democracy, our rule of law and our values and compassion stand in contrast with the hateful world of terrorism,” she said in defense of the proposal, seen by many as a post factum measure.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency UNHCR said that a record 5,000 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean this year alone, up from around 3,800 in 2015.

According to the latest IOM figures, 357,249 refugees crossed the Mediterranean this year, while an additional 24,058 arrived in Europe by land.

“Looking at the cumulative the arrivals to Europe, the number of migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is decreased, and the number of migrants from Africa, particularly Nigeria and Eritrea, increased,” the organization said