Bus-stunt refugees return to Bavaria after night in Berlin

A group of 31 Syrian refugees brought to Berlin on a bus by a Bavarian politician as an act of protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policies returned to Bavaria Friday after spending the night in the capital.

They departed early Friday from a hotel on the northern outskirts of Berlin, a spokesman for Peter Dreier, the dissenting politician responsible for the protest told dpa.

Two of the group did not return: one refugee elected to stay in Berlin and another planned to travel on to the north-western port city of Bremen, Dreier's spokesman said.

Dreier had brought the bus full of Syrian refugees aged between 21 and 45 on the 550-kilometre journey from the rural south-eastern district of Landshut to the German capital to protest Merkel's open-door policy that saw 1.1 million refugees enter Germany in 2015.

The group consisted of men whose applications for asylum are pending and who no longer qualify for government-provided refugee accommodation and must find their own place to live.

Dreier arranged the publicity stunt out of "desperation" to highlight the fact that his district had nowhere for the refugees to live. His action drew criticism from Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller, who dubbed it "an erosion of solidarity."

In an interview with broadcaster SWRinfo Friday morning, Dreier said that not all of the refugees would return to Landshut with him.

"The remainder are coming back and are exceedingly disappointed because they came to Germany with the expectation that Chancellor Merkel would help them, and they want to live in cities. These expectations are not being met," he said.

Dreier said before the bus departed that the Syrians involved had been informed of his political message and had given consent.

The stunt came after Dreier threatened the move during a phone conversation with Merkel last October, during which he reportedly told the chancellor "we can't manage this" in reference to her pro-refugee mantra "we can manage this."

Merkel's migration policies have prompted an unprecedented rebellion in the ranks of her coalition, with politicians from her Bavarian sister party arguing for a cap on the number of refugees entering the country this year

Last update: Fri, 15/01/2016 - 10:46

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