German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to “noticeably reduce” the number of refugees entering the European country after taking a lot of heat from the German population.
At a congress of her conservative party, Christian Democrats Union (CDU), on Monday, Merkel said the German government will adopt specific policies to decrease the number of refugees who will arrive in the country.
“This challenge is enormous,” Merkel said about the refugee crisis, adding, “We want to tangibly reduce the number of refugees arriving.”
“With an approach focused on the German, European and global level, we will succeed in regulating and limiting migration,” she added.
Merkel has come under pressure both at home and in the European Union (EU) for her open-door policy in accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Despite pressures and her popularity drop in recent months, Merkel insisted that Germany has a “moral and political” duty as the top economic power of Europe to help people fleeing the war-torn Syria.
“We will live up to our humanitarian responsibility,” she added.
According to recent figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 924,140 refugees have reached Europe’s shores so far this year while more than 3,670 people have either died or gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent.
Germany, Europe’s top destination for refugees, is expecting to receive around one million asylum seekers, who are mainly from conflict-hit zones in the Middle East and Africa.
Conservative critics of Merkel have urged her to decrease the number of refugees ahead of the country’s elections scheduled for March. They say the open-door policy on refugees would endanger her hopes of winning a fourth term in 2017.
European countries reportedly remain divided over how to deal with the refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-hit zones in the Middle East and Africa.
While a few European leaders support an open-door refugee policy, others prefer controlling the external borders of the EU, deporting more people and paying third countries to keep asylum seekers on their soil.
Western countries’ policies are largely to blame for Europe’s refugee crisis, analysts say, as these states and their allies have been supporting militants who are wrecking havoc in conflict-hit countries in the Middle East, including Syria, as well as North Africa.
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