A German town has sent a bus carrying 31 Syrian refugees to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin in protest at her open-door migrant policy.
Landshut in Bavaria said it was buckling under the strain of an influx that brought 1.1 million migrants to Germany last year.
The town’s mayor Peter Dreier said he organised the seven-hour journey after residents told him “it’s time we set a limit”.
“We are trying to help these people integrate. But that won’t work if this year we face another wave of one million, or even more,” Mr Dreier added.
Pro-refugee campaigners condemned the trip as a publicity stunt that exploited the refugees, who are all Syrian men with asylum status, meaning they are free to live anywhere in Germany.
The coach left Landshut early on Thursday and arrived at 5pm outside the Chancellery, to be greeted by media crews but no government representatives.
Syrians inside the bus looked on with worried faces, glancing nervously at the TV cameras outside.
Ms Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said housing refugees was the task of state and local governments, who received federal funds for this.
He said the city state of Berlin had promised to put up the 31 refugees for the first night.
Mr Dreier, who travelled to Berlin separately by car, said he was disappointed by Ms Merkel’s refusal to engage, calling it “an attempt to ignore and negate” the problem.
He said some of the refugees wanted to look at available accommodation in Berlin, others had asked to travel on to Hamburg, and any that wanted to return to Landshut could do so.
Guenther Burkhardt, head of German refugee support group Pro Asyl, criticised the trip, saying “people are being exploited for the sake of media footage”.
“This doesn’t solve the problems … this is a stunt that misuses the plight of refugees to send the message ‘we want to close the borders’,” he said.