Published time: 14 Aug, 2016 05:14
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© Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
The leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party known for its anti-immigrant stance has proposed deporting illegal immigrants and rejected asylum seekers to islands outside Europe. It comes as the German chancellor is trying to make businesses hire more refugees.
In an interview to Germany’s Bild newspaper on Saturday, AfD’s Frauke Petry said she would like to see all migrants unlawfully staying in Germany as well as applicants who were denied asylum to be repatriated to the “two islands outside Europe that are protected by the United Nations.”
While on the way to the islands, the male refugees who are traveling alone should be separated from female refugees and families as it is allegedly “cheaper and more secure than the current practice,” Petry said.
While the AfD leader has not specified the exact location, the remote Oceania islands of Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea that already host Australian-run refugee detention centers were the German media’s first guess. The facilities are infamous for multiple reports of abuse and torture used toward refugees held in what is claimed to be unbearable conditions.
In April 2016, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court outlawed the Manus detention center, then home to about 850 people, half of whom were estimated to be legit refugee applicants. The court found the agreement with Australia on the camp in violation of the Constitution, that protects “the rights and dignity of mankind.”
The recent Nauru leak revealed a staggering number of incident reports, exposing assaults, sexual abuse, cases of self-harm, child abuse and dire conditions at the center. Over 2,000 reports obtained by the Guardian paint a grim picture of widespread violence at the facility. Almost half of all the incidents involve children, who account for 18 percent of the Pacific island’s 442 detainees.
Since the German legislation is not as strict toward immigrants as Australia’s, Petry proposed an overhaul of the Germany’s migration system to shift its focus from accommodating refugees to getting rid of illegal migrants as fast as possible.
Petry has come under heavy criticism for her controversial anti-migrant rhetoric, with mainstream political forces accusing AfD of populism and exploiting common fears to garner support. Green Party chairman and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel has branded Petry’s cause “a class struggle at the wrong address,” accusing her of making “refugees responsible” for all the problems in Germany.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly plans to call on bosses of Germany’s biggest companies, including Siemens, Opel, Volkswagen, electric utilities company RWE and chemicals group Evonik to hire more refugee force as she will on September 14, Bild reported on Saturday.
The chancellor is expected to urge big German businesses to employ refugees and to extend more traineeships to enable integration of low-skilled refugee workers into German society.
So far, only 54 refugees have been hired by the 30 largest German companies listed on DAX. Fifty of them were employed by Deutsche Post, according to data cited by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in July.
More than 1 million refugees, mostly from North Africa and Middle East, crossed into Germany last year amidst the biggest European migrant crisis since WWII, fleeing war and terrorism. The open-door policy pursued by Merkel has triggered the dramatic rise of right-wing sentiments. The recent spate of terrorist attacks, with three of them committed by migrants, and reports of Islamic State terrorists infiltrating Germany disguised as refugees only fueled the tension.