The war and high inflation have meant that the situation of the refugees has been lost sight of. But the numbers are increasing enormously. A report from three regions where the situation is getting worse. Are we facing or already in a new refugee crisis?

It’s the next crisis, and it’s something of a deja vu – something that brings back memories, although this time it’s very different. It is about the swelling of the migrant flows. The destination of the people, who come mainly from North Africa, is once again Western Europe. Their number is not yet comparable to that which reached Europe in 2015. But it goes in the same direction.

Austria, for example, has recorded around 90,000 people who were apprehended illegally crossing the border this year, a similar number to 2015. Off the coast of Italy, the number of migrants apprehended has tripled compared to the previous year. And in Germany, the authorities are already struggling again with overcrowded asylum centers.

“Europe is currently sleepwalking into the next migration crisis,” says the head of the conservative European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, and already sees the “borderless Schengen area” in danger. He warns that the borders are being raised again within the EU: This time not for fear of contracting Corona, but for fear of becoming the destination of numerous migrants. Three examples show how blank the nerves are already:

A dispute raged in Italy this month over the rescue ship “Ocean Viking”: Italy’s new government had refused to allow the ship with its around 230 migrants on board to enter one of its ports. The crew of the aid organization SOS Méditerranée had previously rescued people from distress in the Mediterranean and made dozens of applications to go ashore in Italy or Malta.

In the end, France, where the refugee ship is registered, agreed to accept the migrants. At the same time, the government in Paris accused the Italians of a serious violation of international law because rescue ships were allowed to go to the nearest port. She withdrew her promise to take in 3,500 migrants from Italy this year. Rome countered by arguing that ships like the “Ocean Viking” still promoted the business of smuggling gangs with their operations.

According to Italian information, around 100,000 boat people have already arrived in the country this year. The peak was in August, when almost 10,000 people made the trip across the Mediterranean to Italy. The island of Lampedusa is once again developing into one of the hotspots.

Already in the summer, six boats with a total of 1,000 people on board had arrived there within 24 hours. At the beginning of November, the body of an infant was discovered on one of the arriving refugee boats. According to media reports, 1,180 people are currently being housed in a camp in Lampedusa that actually only has 400 places.

To calm things down, the EU Commission got to work, rehashing a 2020 “Action Plan”. He envisages intensifying cooperation with countries of origin and transit and launching a new program against gangs of people smugglers in North Africa. The border protection agency Frontex is getting more work to do again, and the EU wants to implement a “solidarity mechanism” that will take migrants from the Mediterranean countries. Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Refugees, admitted that solidarity has not been very far: At the beginning of the year, there were commitments for the relocation of 8,000 migrants within the EU.

Around 100 have so far actually been voluntarily admitted from Italy by other countries. Johansson’s assessment of the legal status of migrants was remarkable: very few who come via the Mediterranean would have to leave their homeland because of political persecution. “We have to keep in mind that a clear majority of the people arriving today via this central Mediterranean route do not need international protection,” said the refugee commissioner.

Martin Huber is the state police director in Burgenland, Austria. During the corona pandemic, numerous migrants stayed in the Balkans, now they are streaming further west. Every day, around 400 people illegally crossing the border into Austria are apprehended where Huber is responsible. Of the expected 90,000 migrants in Austria this year, 55,000 will be in Burgenland alone, Huber calculates.

Of the 472 people smugglers arrested so far, according to the Interior Ministry, 254 were apprehended in Burgenland. Overall, this is an “all-time high”. “We work on three levels. On the one hand there are the priority actions with Hungary, on the other hand the border surveillance at the crossings and the green border and on the other hand the municipal surveillance”, the state police director reported recently after the judiciary in the Austrian federal state had sounded the alarm.

She can’t keep up. The prison in the state capital of Eisenstadt has been overcrowded since May. Around 70 percent of the inmates are in prison for smuggling, up to ten lawsuits are brought before the district court a week for smuggling, others are left undone. The 750 soldiers of the Austrian Armed Forces who are on duty in eastern Burgenland are also confronted with a growing number of migrants.

According to Gernot Gasser, military commander of Burgenland, up to 3000 people are picked up by the soldiers in Burgenland every week. “This is a number that is extremely demanding for the emergency services.”

In addition to Burgenland, the army is also deployed in Tyrol, Carinthia and Styria to stop illegal immigrants. The authorities concerned agree that the situation is no longer “miles away” from that of 2015. A mayor in an affected Austrian municipality summed it up like this: “I’m not someone who says ‘We shouldn’t help’, but how is this going to continue?

On an evening in November, a serious meeting took place in the evangelical community hall in Schwerte-Westhoven. “We are actually in an exceptional situation, there is no other way to describe it,” says Deputy Mayor Tim Frommeyer.

This year alone, the small town has taken in 630 refugees so far. “We are desperately looking for staff,” Frommeyer clarifies, “but all other municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia are also looking for staff.” What also depresses those who meet here is the “inhumane” living space for migrants and refugees. In the meantime, Schwerte has closed a gym for club sports, and another is being prepared as refugee accommodation.

Anyone who knows which devices at home consume how much electricity can make targeted savings. Our e-paper shows which devices consume how much electricity for all common household appliances, from ovens and stoves to refrigerators and washing machines to TVs and WLAN routers. There are also a number of instant power-saving tips.

All of this shouldn’t have existed for a long time, especially after Corona, where the gyms were closed for another reason and sorely missed. The WDR magazine Westpol has received a survey by the NRW Association of Towns and Municipalities on the use of gyms. The results: 45 out of 205 municipalities are currently using gymnasiums or similar facilities to accommodate refugees. 105 municipalities expect to have to activate gyms as emergency accommodation in the next three months because the 26,000 places for refugees in the official state facilities are no longer sufficient.

The migrants from North Africa come to the refugees who reach Germany from the Ukraine. It is estimated that around a million people fled here after the outbreak of war on February 24. Christof Sommer, General Manager of the Association of Towns and Municipalities, says in an interview with WDR that it is “the largest refugee movement since the Second World War”, and that it is a “different dimension” than the refugee crisis of 2015.

Banks have evaluated the residential real estate sales of the past few weeks and have found that prices are crumbling across the board. They give way, especially in overheated markets like Munich. Anyone who has to sell should hurry: there is currently no end in sight to the fall in prices. On the contrary.

A Bundeswehr officer died in hospital last Friday. The man had previously collapsed in the army infantry school. Investigations are underway, the Bundeswehr is keeping a low profile on the incident.

In Germany, SUV tires were deflated again in several cities on Tuesday. Behind the attacks are apparently climate activists who want to ban the large vehicles from inner cities.

Gas and district heating customers as well as pensioners can breathe a sigh of relief in December. They receive financial grants, which many people receive in December. We show what changes are coming in December, who benefits from the grants and by when the Christmas mail should actually be sent out.

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The article “If you want to understand the new refugee crisis, you have to know these places” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.