Saturday

17th Feb 2018

Germany tightens asylum rules

  • Family reunifications suspended for migrants with 'subsidiary protection' status (Photo: Oxfam International)

Germany's government coalition parties agreed Thursday (28 Janaury) to tighten asylum rules in a bid to adapt the country's policy to the continued influx of migrants and growing public opposition.

The agreement between chancellor Angela Merkel's christian democrat party, the CDU, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, as well as their social democratic partner, the SDP, includes restrictions to family reunification and aims at easing the deportation of non-refugees.

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Under the accord, family reunification will be suspended for two years for people with a "subsidiary protection" status. This status means that a person is not given full asylum but just a one-year residence permit, even though they cannot be sent back because of the situation in their country.

The measure had been floated in November but not been implemented.

An exception will be made for people whose family is in a refugee camp in Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon. But they will be part of an EU plan to resettle refugees from these countries in Europe, which has still to be agreed by member states.

The Green Party spokesman for home affairs, Volker Beck, said the decision was "an employment-generating measure for smugglers".

"The inventors of such roles are effectively accepting the threat of death by drowning in the Mediterranean," he was quoted as saying by the Deutsche Welle.

Merkel 'fortified'

The coalition agreement also plans to extend the list of "safe countries of origin" to Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

A growing number of young men from these countries have been coming to Germany, via Turkey, trying to get asylum by posing as Syrians.

Reception centres for migrants coming from "safe countries of origin" will be created in order to proceed more quickly with their asylum request.

Since people from these countries are almost never granted asylum, the aim is to be able to send them back more quickly. During their application process, they will not be allowed to travel elsewhere in Germany.


On Wednesday, the king of Morocco accepted that Moroccan illegal migrants are sent back from Germany.

"The recent flows of illegal migrants, some of them falsely claiming to be refugees, were the result of a humanitarian call ... which was widely exploited by human trafficking organisations operating on both sides of the Mediterranean," Mohammed VI said in a statement.

The deal with Morocco and the extension of the list of safe countries are also addressed at public perception, as many north Africans were among the alleged sexual aggressors in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve.

"I feel fortified following the results of today," Angela Merkel said Wednesday evening. "We are getting a lot of things accomplished."

After the coalition meeting, the chancellor held talks with leaders from Germany's regions. They agreed to set up a working group to elaborate "a concept for integration" of migrants by the end of March.

The issue will be the "predominant topic" of the year, Merkel said.

German MPs sceptical of Merkel's 'European solution'

Conservative critics of the German chancellor's refugee policy feel increasingly insecure after she fails to win over member states for a European solution. Still, few believe that her stepping down would lead to a solution.

Over 130,000 migrants missing in Germany

More than 130,000 asylum seekers have arrived at their designated housing, making 13 percent of people seeking protection in Germany unaccounted for.

Germany, Turkey want Nato help to police coast

Germany and Turkey want to stop people-smugglers in the Aegean Sea, as tens of thousands of new Syria refugees mass on Turkey's borders amid Assad's siege of Aleppo.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

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