By Berlin, Germany correspondent D. Wolfgang Spitz-Bubel
After inviting all of Syria to come, Germany’s Chancelloress, Angela Merkel has announced an emergency policy for accommodating a possible 2 million Asylum seekers from Syria expected in Germany this year. Syria previously had a population of 22 million.
She has instructed the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge – BAMF) to survey the national pool of holiday apartments and houses (Ferienwohnungen); to immediately reserve any available accommodation. Enabling emergency legislation is expected to be rushed through the legislative processes in the coming week. An early draft of that provides for fair compensation to the property owner of around 70 Euros per week for each “object” with an additional 7 Euros per week per asylum seeker housed.
Estimates at hand indicate that Germany’s approximately 70,000 apartments and houses available for holiday rental could immediately accommodate a first wave of around 350,000 asylum seekers.Dr. Merkel indicated that more options for accommodation are in the pipeline, including access to ordinary rental properties and other housing left unoccupied for extended periods. One of the other options available was the re-population of abandoned villages, especially in eastern Germany; but that required extensive legislation which could take months to draft and essential infrastructure up to a year to reconnect. Also, the asylum seekers could hardly be expected to renovate the abandoned buildings to Germany’s strict energy-saving and environmental standards as can cost around 100,000 Euros to do that for a simple house that had been lived in immediately before renovation.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron indicated that the Home Office would also be looking at that option for accommodating the thousands of refugee families expected to arrive shortly in the UK. They first needed to consult with Brussels on the permitted amount of fair compensation to e.g. B&B owners and the health, welfare and religious services that were required under EU regulations.
An early European winter is pressing so accommodation is literally vital. Hundreds of thousands could otherwise suffer from the effects of the cold with a potential death toll of unthinkable proportions.