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Germany bolsters Swiss border against refugees

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Germany bolsters Swiss border against refugees
Ther Swiss-German border at Kreuzlingen. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
12:59 CEST+02:00
The number of refugees trying to enter Germany through Switzerland has risen significantly in 2016, with the government reacting by increasing its border presence, according to reports.

Citing German police figures, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports that a total of 3,385 asylum seekers have tried to enter Germany through Switzerland since the start of the year.

In response, the German Interior Ministry has placed an extra 90 border guards and 40 federal police officers on the border, Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer told NZZ am Sonntag.

The Interior Ministry in Berlin confirmed that the number of refugee arrivals through Switzerland had risen, but added that on a daily basis fewer than 50 people were arriving.

NZZ reports that when refugee accommodation centres become overcrowded in places like Chiasso along the Italian border, authorities will transfer asylum seekers to centres in Basel or Kreuzlingen -- both of which are very close to the German border, and thus some may illegally cross into Germany.

“The development exists in connection with the still meaningful Mediterranean migrant route to Italy,” a spokesperson said.

The Interior Ministry spokesperson said that federal police are taking measures on the Swiss border “like the border controls which have been re-instituted on the Austrian border which are there to deter or prevent entry”.

According to Frontex, the agency that is responsible for controlling the borders of the EU, around 95,000 refugees have landed in Italy so far this year. In July alone 25,300 arrived, a 12 percent increase on last year.

Recently released figures show that Germany is turning away far more refugees at the border in 2016 than it did in 2015.

Up until the end of June border police stopped 13,324 people from entering the country, whereas in the whole of 2015 they prevented 8,913 from crossing the border.

Members of Die Linke (Left Party) in Germany have described the increase in turnbacks at the border as irresponsible.

"An inhumane mass-deportation practice has become increasingly established in Germany," Ulla Jelpke, MP for Die Linke, said in a statement.

Switzerland has also come under fire in recent weeks for turning back migrants at the Swiss-Italian border if they do not lodge an asylum request in Switzerland.

The country doesn't want to become a transit route for refugees who wish to travel through Switzerland and claim asylum in Germany instead.

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