With open arms, German cities struggle with migrant surge

Munich, Sept 12: Arriving by the thousands, refugees stream in to the swamped southern German city of Munich, the entry point to their "Eldorado" which officials say is starting to burst from the influx.

"At least 10,000 people" were expected at the train station in the Bavarian capital today, said Eva Hinglein, spokesperson for the Upper Bavaria district. Between midnight and 10:30 am, authorities counted 3,600 migrants.

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German cities struggle with migrants

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter has said that he is "very concerned with the developments".

"We no longer know what to do with refugees," Reiter said so far this year, 450,000 refugees have arrived in Germany, including 37,000 in the first eight days of September, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told parliament on Thursday.

As the newcomers arrived, some onlookers at the Munich station held welcome signs to greet them. But it was far less than the scene several days ago when cheering volunteers handed out groceries and children's toys.

The cheers have been replaced by a sort of grim routine: as soon as migrants get off the train, police shepherd them to welcome centres to begin their registration. Still the attitude among the arrivals remains one of gratitude.

We no longer know what to do with refugees: Reiter

"The problem isn't them (the Germans), it's just that's there are too many people", a 22-year-old Syrian refugee Adel told AFP. Despite this surge, "they welcome us anyway, they welcome us with everything, food, everything."

"They are so nice in Austria and Germany," he added. But Munich is quickly reaching capacity. "We think that 5,000 people tonight will not know where to go," to spend the night, said a local official, Christoph Hillenbrand.

He said many of the migrants will have to make do with mats on the ground. To help accommodate them, the city with the help of the army has installed beds on its fair grounds.

German media has reported the possibility of a large welcome centre to open in the north, hopefully taking some of the pressure off of southern cities like Munich. But the government has not confirmed it.


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