When Germany announced in August that it would waive United Nations rules and allow Syrian migrants to apply for asylum regardless of how they got there, officials knew to expect a flood of people. Hopeful families were already surging into the country from all over the Middle East, an area crippled by social strife and political chaos. Authorities predicted the arrival of more than 800,000 refugees to the country by the end of 2015, and they tried to prepare accordingly.
But Germany is now sagging under the weight. Its cities and towns cannot easily accommodate all the refugees. An official from the Berlin Refugee Council called the issue an “organizational problem” rather than a financial one: Authorities don’t have the resources—or the time—to quickly provide registration, funds, secure accommodation, health services, and identification to all the refugees, 200,000 of whom arrived in September alone.
German police and politicians are frustrated. Exhausted migrants who traveled hundreds of miles to escape civil war only to be held in weeks-long waiting lines are even more so. And adding to Germany’s existing logistical problems now is another: The impending arrival of a freezing, harsh winter.