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A German policeman stands near migrants waiting on the bridge over the Inn river to cross into Germany on Sunday in Braunau am Inn, Austria.
by Stephen Beard Monday, October 19, 2015 – 14:37
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her country’s borders open to hundreds of thousands of refugees last month, she won praise from around the world for her generosity and humanitarianism. Denigrated during the summer for being hard-hearted toward the heavily indebted Greeks, Merkel basked in a rare glow of international approval. The German people also responded generously to the migration crisis. The first arrivals were cheered and handed sweets.
But with more than a million refugees expected to have settled in Germany by the end of this year, the welcome is wearing thin. Anxieties about the sheer weight of numbers have multiplied as German authorities struggle to cope; city officials in Hamburg have seized empty office buildings to house the incomers, and schools are overwhelmed by non-German speaking children.
Fifty-one percent of Germans now say they’re worried about the migrants, up from 38 percent a month ago. Merkel’s popularity has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the euro crisis in 2011, and confidence in her ability to handle the crisis has waned.
“When she said, ‘Yes, we can!’ people thought: It’s a brave statement,” said Michael Wohlgemuth of the Open Europe think tank in Berlin. “And now people are asking her, ‘How? How can we take in such a large number of people in a short space of time?’ And there are no clear answers to that.”