Merkel adrift as migrant tide turns

Editorial | 2 Feb 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is increasingly isolated over her "open- door" policy toward migrants from Syria and the region.

That's inevitable. But she has no one to blame for the nightmare haunting her.

The "Iron Lady" of Europe has been pleading with her neighbors to accept bigger shares of the migrants who have been landing in great numbers.

As the most powerful politician in Europe, Merkel should know better than others such pleas are doomed to fail. It's strange she - despite knowing she's bound to be disappointed - is making the appeal. If anything, it sounds like a desperate cry for help.

Her neighbors' responses shouldn't surprise her. Instead of widening their doors to the human tide, they're trying to slam them as quickly as possible.

They are telling Merkel: sorry, sweetie, but you're all alone.

Sweden, which had accepted the greatest number of migrants per capita, is now turning its back on a cause it once championed. After a female helper at a shelter home was stabbed to death by a 15-year-old asylum seeker, a mob in Stockholm called for assaults on migrants.

The Swedes' soft-spoken prime minister, Stefan Lofven, is forced to tell his people that instead of admitting more, up to half of the 163,000 migrants seeking asylum in the small Scandinavian country could be deported.

Meanwhile, what's the situation in France? Local authorities are bringing in bulldozers to remove a large section of the notorious "Calais jungle," where thousands of migrants have camped out waiting to cross the English Channel for the "dream home" of Britain. Confrontations are imminent as most migrants refuse to leave the jungle to move to a new refugee camp that cost taxpayers 20 million euros (HK$169.4 million) to build.

In the Netherlands, which has 100,000 refugees, a policy is shaping up to discourage failed asylum seekers to remain in the tiny country. If their claims are denied, they will have to leave.

If they refuse to do so, they will be left to their own devices without further help from the government. It would be grueling to live without gas and electricity in winter.

Thanks to the English Channel, Britain is the European country most segregated from main thrust of the influx.

However, tensions there are also rising. On Saturday, pro- and anti- migrant protesters clashed in Dover, the port closest to Calais.

As of now, Kent has more than 1,300 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care, up from 630 in August.

To free up space in order to accommodate the child migrants, local children under council care have to be placed outside Kent. Other councils are providing lip service to calls for help.

Will they listen to Merkel in face of the realities? I doubt it.

The European countries have found themselves trapped in a paradoxical situation.

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