Germany has announced plans to give shorter residence permits to the Syrians arriving in the West European country as refugees, and deny them the right to be reunited with their families.
In a Friday interview with Deutschlandradio, the national German public radio broadcaster, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the new measure is in line with those of other European Union (EU) governments, which are limiting the influx of asylum seekers into their borders.
‘If others are doing it…’
“In this situation, other countries are only guaranteeing a limited stay,” De Maiziere said, adding, “We’ll now do the same with Syrians in the future. We’re telling them ‘you will get protection, but only so-called subsidiary protection that is limited to a period and without any family unification.’”
The remarks, which marked a surprise U-turn from what is said to be German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy on asylum seekers, has sparked controversy, prompting German government spokesman Steffen Seibert to say that “a change” to the country’s refugee policy for Syrians had “not yet taken place.”
De Maiziere’s comments came on the same day that the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper quoted an Interior Ministry spokesperson as saying that Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is instructed to grant Syrian refugees “only subsidiary protection.”
The developments followed a Thursday crisis meeting between Merkel and the leaders of her two coalition partners, in which they agreed on a raft of measures to address the refugee crisis, among them the prompt deportation of refused asylum claimants.
Merkel, who is under pressure at home to curb the flow of refugees into Germany, recently demanded a fair way of distributing asylum seekers between EU member states.
Germany, Europe’s top destination for refugees, is expecting to receive between 800,000 and one million asylum seekers this year. Most of the refugees are fleeing conflict-hit zones in the Middle East and Africa.
According to the latest figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 773,244 refugees have reached Europe’s shores so far this year while a total of 3,423 people have either died or gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent.
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