Blasted for «refugee chaos,» Berlin mayor slams Merkel on integration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to do more to integrate refugees into German society, says the mayor of Berlin - a city that has been slammed for its response to the rush of refugees - in remarks published Sunday by national daily Die Welt.

"Angela Merkel needs urgently to come up with an integration policy that works, but nothing is happening in this area," Michael Mueller said.

"The federal government has to date been engaged in crisis management, while failing to tackle the task of integration," he added.

Mueller is from the Social Democrats, which sit in coalition with the Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on the national level. That coalition is mirrored in Berlin's city-state government, though the CDU takes top billing nationally while the SPD is dominant in Berlin.

The mayor called for the federal government to finance and administer training programmes for teachers, interpreters and integration counsellors.

The Berlin authorities have come in for sharp criticism for their handling of refugees, with the New York Times referring to a "chaotic reception" in a lengthy article late last month that was widely reported in Germany.

Mueller defended his officials against charges that refugees arriving in the capital had been forced to spend days, and even weeks, standing in line to be registered.

Berlin was accommodating more refugees than any other city in Europe, Mueller said, putting the figure at 70,000 this year, although he acknowledged that improvements were needed.

"We have erected additional tents and instituted a shift service on weekends," he said. "We have at the same time achieved a lot, from accommodation through registration, which is going well, to placing the refugee children in schools."

Last update: Sun, 20/12/2015 - 13:00
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