'Let German citizens take in refugees', politician says

Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:22pm EDT
 
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By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Citizens in Germany, one of the most sought-after destinations for refugees, should be allowed to host asylum seekers in their homes to ease the pressure on the government to provide adequate housing for them, a politician said on Friday.

Martin Patzelt, a lawmaker and member of the Christian Democratic Union, said households should be permitted to provide free lodging to refugees, leaving only the cost of living and healthcare to the government.

He said the measure would save Germany a considerable amount of money housing refugees, and provide an alternative to crowded temporary shelters, hotels and unused gyms.

Germany, the European Union's biggest economy, is one of the world's top destinations for people fleeing oppression and war.

It had 65,700 new asylum claims in the first half of the year, the largest number among industrialized nations, mainly due to a rise in applications by Syrians, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"In times of crisis, we have to stay together and accept that the problem of the refugees is a common one," Patzelt told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Despite receiving an initially cautious reaction from the government, and death threats from members of the public, Patzelt said his proposal was gaining widespread support.

"I am receiving more and more letters from people offering to host refugees, and a poll by RTL television showed that 30 percent of people, particularly younger generations, want to help," Patzelt said.   Continued...