Germany could lift border controls on May 12, interior minister says

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
VIENNA
Published 06.04.2016 00:26
Updated 06.04.2016 15:54
A refugee walks on the train tracks amidst morning mist at a refugee camp near the Greek-FYROM border near the village of Idomeni, northern Greece, 04 April 2016. (EPA Photo)
A refugee walks on the train tracks amidst morning mist at a refugee camp near the Greek-FYROM border near the village of Idomeni, northern Greece, 04 April 2016. (EPA Photo)

Germany could lift temporary border controls brought in last year to help stem the migrant flow by mid-May if the number of arrivals continues to dwindle, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Tuesday.

"We would not extend the border controls beyond May 12 if the numbers remain this low," he told Austrian national broadcaster ORF, referring to a recent drop in arrivals following the closure of the main Balkan migrant trail.

De Maiziere made the comments following a meeting of interior ministers from German-speaking countries in the Austrian capital.

The controls on the Austrian border were introduced last September when more than 10,000 migrants and refugees were arriving in Germany on a daily basis.

A majority of them were fleeing war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Many had undertaken a dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece, before trekking up the western Balkans in their bid to reach northern EU nations.

Germany let in a record 1.1 million migrants last year as the continent grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

But de Maiziere said the number of asylum-seekers has taken a plunge following border clampdowns by Austria and other countries along the Balkan route in February.

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