Germany has moved to toughen its asylum policies as Finland and Sweden announced plans to deport tens of thousands of people in a bid to contain the migrant crisis.Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor, announced that Germany would place Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on a list of “safe countries of origin” – meaning that migrants from those countries would have little chance of winning asylum.
Some migrants would also be blocked from bringing their families to join them in Germany for two years, Gabriel said.
The tougher rules come after Germany, the European Union’s powerhouse economy, took in some 1.1 million migrants in 2015 – many of them refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fierce pressure in recent months to reverse her open-arms policy to those fleeing war and persecution, including opposition from within her own conservative camp.
Finland meanwhile joined Sweden on Thursday in announcing plans to deport tens of thousands of refused asylum seekers.
The two Nordic countries are both struggling to cope with an influx of refugees and migrants fleeing misery in the Middle East and elsewhere – receiving amongst the highest numbers of arrivals per capita in the EU.
The Finnish government expects to deport around two thirds of the 32,000 asylum seekers that arrived in 2015, Päivi Nerg, administrative director of the interior ministry, told AFP.