Chancellor Angela Merkel says her government now plans to “significantly reduce” the number of refugees entering Germany after facing opposition from a faction of her party.
Speaking at an annual conference of her conservative Christian Democrats party, Merkel said opening Germany’s borders in September to the hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees was “nothing more or less than a humanitarian imperative”.
“We want to and we will noticeably reduce the number of refugees because it’s in the interest of everyone,” she said on Monday in the western city of Karlsruhe.
“And, dear friends, it’s in the interest of the refugees themselves because nobody, no matter why they make the journey, thoughtlessly leaves his home.”
Germany expects more than one million refugees to arrive this year as part of Merkel’s open-door policy for asylum seekers, which has won her worldwide praise.
On Monday, the influential Financial Times named her person of the year, a week after the US weekly Time magazine declared her its person of the year over the handling of the refugee crisis.
Merkel condemned rich countries for failing to properly fund the United Nations refugee agency and its World Food Programme, calling the lack of financing “unforgivable” and “unacceptable”.
Despite the humanitarian move, the arrival of so many refugees in Germany has resulted in a xenophobic backlash from far-right groups with a rising number of cases of arson attacks on refugee shelters, assaults, and swastikas sprayed on walls.
|Pressure grows on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to limit refugee numbers|