As Germany continues to struggle with a large influx of refugees, an advocacy group warned the country was “losing sight of human rights,” the Local reported Wednesday. The report from Amnesty International critiqued new laws that have increased police powers to detain refugees as political tensions remain high and attacks against refugee shelters increase.
“[Germany’s] readiness to take these people in was a big contribution to helping those in need,” said Selmin Çalışkan, the general-secretary of Amnesty’s Germany branch. “But this refugee-friendly behavior from the government is no longer there.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to face domestic pressure to backtrack on her open-arms refugee policy. The German leader has seen her approval ratings fall drastically since the start of the crisis.
A chartered flight with 125 Afghan refugees flew from Germany to Kabul Wednesday returning refugees to their home country, Reuters reported. Reports said the refugees agreed to voluntarily return. Since the start of the year, Afghanis have made up the second-highest number of refugees, after Syrians, making dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings.
“After a difficult way to Germany in the hands of people smugglers they realized their future is in Afghanistan and that they are needed in their home country,” said a statement from the German embassy.
Tensions remain high in Germany with footage of refugees on a bus being intimidated by protesters in Clausnitz last week as they tried to go to a shelter, the BBC reported. In a nearby town, a refugee shelter was set on fire in an arson attack. Germany’s justice minister said the attacks were “abhorrent and disgusting,” however, statistics show such attacks have been increasing since last year.
European Union leaders are scheduled to hold another summit on the refugee crisis with Turkish officials March 7 to try to slow the influx of refugees crossing into Europe. Amnesty was critical of Germany trying to stem the flow by pressuring Turkey, a country where human rights conditions for refugees remain poor. Refugee arrivals in Greece and Italy have already surpassed 100,000 this year, the International Organization for Migration reported.