The Interior Ministry has halted the programmes on refugee resettlement "due to the restrictions on travel."

Asylum seekers wanting to go to Europe continue their transition to Lesvos Island in Greece on February 28, 2020.
Asylum seekers wanting to go to Europe continue their transition to Lesvos Island in Greece on February 28, 2020. (AA)

Germany has suspended its refugee intake programmes, including a deal with Turkey, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, as the European Union shut its borders to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Interior Ministry has halted the programmes on refugee resettlement "due to the restrictions on travel," said the spokesman, adding that they will resume "when possible."

Tuesday's meeting

Turkish, German, British and French leaders on Tuesday discussed the Syria crisis and refugee issue as well as joint action against coronavirus in a video conference.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also discussed methods of humanitarian aid to Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

"We found opportunity to extensively evaluate many topics ranging from fight against coronavirus and the humanitarian situation in [Syria’s] Idlib, to solutions to Syria crisis, matter of asylum seekers and Turkey-EU relations at the summit," Erdogan said on Twitter following the summit.

"In this difficult process that we pass through at the regional and global level, we will operate diplomacy and cooperation mechanisms more actively, and we will resolutely continue our efforts to resolve problems as soon as possible," he added.

Germany promises assistance

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Merkel said, "Germany has earmarked €25 million [$27,498] plus €100 million [$109,994] for humanitarian assistance, and this must now quickly reach to the people,” she said, referring to millions of displaced Syrians who moved near Turkish border due to intense attacks by the Assad regime in recent months.

"We have expressed our willingness to offer more financial support if necessary," she said, adding that they were also aware of Ankara’s expectations for upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union.

The European Union has called on Turkey to stop refugees and migrants, from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa as well as Syria, trying to cross the border.

Greece has used tear gas and water cannons against the refugees and migrants, and both countries have sent troops or security forces to the border. 

Ankara has accused Greek forces of shooting dead four refugees at the border, a claim Athens denies.

Source: AFP