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efms Migration Report

December 2007

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EU-Africa Summit: Agreement on stronger co-operation in combating illegal migration

On the occasion of the second EU-Africa Summit held on 8 and 9 December 2007, the governments of Europe and Africa have agreed on a stronger co-operation not only in the areas of freedom, security, trade, development and human rights but also in the area of migration: The EU Member States focused particularly on reaching a joint strategy with the African countries in the fight against illegal migration, for example by facilitating the return of illegal immigrants to their home countries. The Spanish president José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expressed himself in favour of an "immigration pact" between the EU and Africa. Zapatero added that on the one hand the European Union needed to offer legal possibilities for Africans to immigrate into the EU, on the other hand, the inflow of illegals needed to be combated relentlessly. The support measures within the framework of the pact could comprise, inter alia, the fostering of school education in Africa, the creation of work places and the improvement of the infrastructure. Critics, like the author Navid Kermani, said that the term "refugee protection" would no longer refer to the protection of refugees but rather to the protection against refugees.
Kurier 09.12.07 // Die Presse online 10.12.07 // taz 12.12.07

Most extensive enlargement of the Schengen area in history

With the enlargement of the Schengen area, the internal border controls at another eight EU Member States were removed on 21 December 2007. These countries are: Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Almost 400 million EU citizens can now freely move inside the Schengen area without having to undergo passport controls. From March 2008, also the controls on airports are to be removed. According to a study of the Leipzig-based Institute for Market Research, the removal of the border controls leads to rising concerns among the population living in the German border regions to Poland. According to the study, 59 per cent of the respondents said they would fear an increase in the crime rates due to a rising number of illegal immigrants, human traffickers and car thieves. Also Rainer Wendt, federal chairman of the German Union of the Police Forces (GdP), considered the removal of the border controls a dangerous experiment putting at stake the security of the population. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) emphasized, however, that the open borders would be as secure as they used to be. The shifting from stationary borders controls to a mobile observation of the border areas is not expected to lead to a loss of security, according to Schäuble. A spokesman of the border protection police in Gorzow Wielkopolski said, however, that since the removal of the border controls, the number of Chechens trying to illegally immigrate from Poland to Germany would have risen rapidly. In the "Schengen Experience Report 2005 - 2007" of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there is, moreover, the talk of increasing problems with the illegal immigration at the western borders of Germany, particularly at the border to France.
Focus 17.12.07 // Press release of the Federal Government 21.12.07 // Die Welt 21.12.07

EU/Switzerland: TV spot wants to keep Africans from fleeing to Europe

On behalf of the EU Commission and the Federal Office for Migration of Switzerland, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has produced a TV spot that is currently broadcast in Cameroon to inform about the dangers posed by illegal migration. The spot of 47 seconds shows a young African who tells his father on the phone about his favourable situation in Europe - at the same time, pictures are shown that reflect another, rather sad reality. Politics and refugee organisations criticised the spot, which is part of a comprehensive information campaign intended to correct the image of "Europe as a golden paradise" prevailing in Africa. Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Member of the European Parliament for the FDP party, said that the film would be as "stupid" as ridiculous and should only make forget the lack of achievements in the European immigration policy. Bernd Mesovic of the relief organisation Pro Asyl criticised the campaign in a similar way by calling it primitive and populist, and added that it would be naive to believe that people struggling with a difficult economic and political situation could be deterred by such a film. Andreas Halbach, a representative of IOM Germany, said, however, that the issue would not be to deter people but rather to raise their awareness. Moreover, the spot would be aimed at economic refugees without questioning in no way the rights of political refugees.
SZ 11.12.07

Six years after PISA: school performance of immigrant children still behind of German children of the same age

Even though the results of the third PISA Study (Programme for International Student Assessment) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published on 3 December 2007 show some improvements of the performance of 15-year old boys and girls when being compared on international level, it also reveals that children from immigrants and workers" families are still worse off compared to children from families of academics: The performance level of migrant children would be up to two years behind the level of the average of the German children of the same age. In many traditional immigration countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Israel, however, the foreign origin of children would not be noticeable. Moreover, it would be striking that migrant children belonging to the second generation in Germany would show a worse performance at school than those immigrated recently. As regards this point, Germany would be one of the few exceptions in the OECD study. The OECD attributes the reasons for this imbalance to the early division of the children within the divided school system as well as to the language deficits especially among children with migration background. Manfred Prenzel, head of the German PISA research team, however, has identified - in contrast to the experts of the OECD - also sustainable improvements as regards the issue of social justice. The links in the context between social background and performance would be no longer as strong as before, Prenzel added. As a response to the results of the PISA Study, the Conference of Ministers of Education of the Federal States (KMK) together with migrants" associations wants to encounter the disadvantages of immigrant children by strengthening language training. For that purpose, they signed an agreement on 13 December 2007, which in addition is aimed at a closer co-operation between families and schools and an increased employment of teachers with migration background. The agreement is linked to the voluntary commitments foreseen in the National Integration Plan of the Federal Government, which wants to provide for an extension of training, care and education institutions for children in early childhood as well as for increasing the number of all-day schools.
Press release of the Federal Government online 04.12.07 // SZ 04.12.07 // FR 05.12.07 // FR 07.12.07 // Der Spiegel 12.12.07 // KNA 13.12.07 // FR 14.12.07 // taz online 14.12.07

Böhmer presents 7th report on the situation of foreigners in Germany

On 19 December 2007, the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), has presented the 7th report on the situation of foreigners in Germany. The reports focussed on the areas of education, qualification and integration in the labour market. According to the report, the portion of those leaving school before finishing among foreign school leavers would amount to 18 per cent; moreover, also the portion of foreign youths undergoing vocational training shows a negative trend: The proportion of non-Germans undergoing vocational training would amount to 23 per cent compared to 57 per cent among Germans; according to the report, 40 per cent of all migrants would not have any professional qualification. This was particularly and above average the case among immigrants from Italy, Greece and Turkey. The problems in the areas of education and vocational training would be also reflected in the situation of foreigners on the labour market: their risk of becoming unemployed would still be as double as high compared to German nationals. In the context of improving the vocational training and labour market opportunities of migrants, Böhmer particularly stressed the importance of early language training and the subsequent qualification of school leavers without final degree. The report also addressed the situation of women and girls with migration background, the issue of xenophobia, and developments in the nationalisation law, foreigners" law and the law governing social benefits for foreigners. Böhmer also pointed to the enlarged data basis of the latest report, saying that on the basis of the micro census of 2005 it was possible to obtain information on persons with migration background independent of their respective nationality.
Press release of the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Migration, Refugees and Integration 19.12.07 // SZ 20.12.07 // NN 20.12.07 // Die Welt 20.12.07 // BZ 12.12.07

Return tendencies among ethnic German repatriates

The interest to return to their former home countries, and especially to Russia and Kazakhstan, among particularly those immigrants who came in the 1990s as so-called ethnic German repatriates from the former Soviet Union to Germany seems to have increased most recently. According to the counselling centres for ethnic German repatriates, this development is due to an improvement of the social and economic situation in these countries as well as to the partly failed integration into the German society. From the beginning of 2008, returnees are even to be offered support through a support package made available by the Russian government. The Russian governor Georgij Boos made a special trip to Hamburg to attend an information event to recruit ethnic German repatriates who are considered in Russia to be hard-working and reliable workers. According to estimates of the counselling centres for ethnic German repatriates, some thousands of the around 2 million ethnic German repatriates living in Germany have already returned to the former Soviet Union.
Die Welt online 09.12.07

Security services do not feel sufficiently prepared for the fight against terrorism

The German security services, the BKA (Federal Office of Criminal Investigation), LKAs (State Offices of Criminal Investigation) and the BfV (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) have demanded more rights to conduct observations when it comes to prevent terrorism arguing that this would currently possible only to an insufficient extent. The communication between the three persons suspect of being Islamic terrorists, who were detained in the Sauerland region in September, for instance, had been widely unknown. Moreover, it would become ever more difficult to control terrorist activities in the internet due to stronger security precautions of the Islamists. Therefore, the security services demanded an extension of their competences as regards the surveillance of terrorist activities. Partly demanded, partly proposed were measures such as the admission of the disputed secret online searches, but also undercover searches of flats and their video surveillance as well as the blocking of files against the access of lawyers of suspect Islamists. Political support for a general extension of the surveillance competences comes from politicians of the CDU/CSU parties, namely from Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), the Prime Minister of the state of Lower Saxony, Uwe Schünemann (CDU) and the Bavarian Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann (CSU), who have expressed themselves in favour of an extension. According to Schäuble, the traditional methods of criminal prosecution would no longer be sufficient in the light of the threats posed by international terrorism. The expert for interior political affairs of the FDP group in the Federal Parliament, Max Stadler, criticized Schäuble in particular for his proposal to simplify the expulsion of terror suspects. By turning away from the traditional legal instruments employed in a state under the rule of law, Schäuble would be more and more favouring the legal concept behind the so-called "criminal law governing the treatment of enemies", in which procedural rights of suspects would no longer be in force. With this statement Stadler alluded to the situation at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay.
FR 10.12.07 // SZ 12.12.07 // NN 12.12.07 // Focus 17.12.07 // Die Welt 27.12.07

Conference of the Interior Ministers discusses measures against NPD party

On the occasion of their conference held in Berlin on 6 and 7 December 2007, the Interior Ministers of the federal states discussed a motion proposed by Berlin"s Senator of the Interior, Erhart Körting (SPD), who tries to impede that foundations and associations standing close to the NPD party are supported with state funds. Even though no foundation close the NPD party is receiving financial support from the national budget so far, this could become possible if the party continued to be successful at the elections. In Saxony, for instance, foundations close to the political parties are granted state support funds, if the corresponding party is represented during two parliamentary terms in the Federal or the state"s Parliament. Even though the NPD party had not been in the state Parliament of Dresden until 2004, it has already founded a so-called "education centre for homeland and national identity". Therefore, Körting aims at obliging the federal states not to finance "unconstitutional" foundations. Moreover, he demands that associations standing close to the NPD party can be withdrawn more efficiently their status of "charitable organisations". To this end, the tax offices should be informed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution about seemingly harmless associations in order to prevent them from obtaining tax benefits on donations they receive. Körting"s proposal met with different reactions at the conference. The Interior Minister of Hesse, Volker Bouffier (CDU), supported the demands of Körting to completely exclude foundations related to political parties or associations with extremist objectives from the payment of state support funds and argued it would be unacceptable if the state would finance the activities of enemies to the constitution with tax payers" money. Such provisions, however, needed to be applied also to left-wing extremist or radical foreign organisations, said Bouffier. His Lower Saxon counterpart, Uwe Schünemann (CDU), said that any demand in the context of the fight against extremist organisations would be backed; however, it should be first of all checked if it was really necessary to introduce new provisions. However, no agreement could be found on a new attempt to launch a proceeding aimed at the prohibition of the NPD party.
taz 06.12.07 // BZ 07.12.07

Central Council of Jews in Germany complains about decreasing sensitivity in dealing with anti-Semitism

The Central Council of Jews is concerned about the decrease in the sensitivity when it comes to anti-Semitism in Germany. The president of the Central Council, Charlotte Knobloch, criticised that politics has become inured and said that there would be a lot of talk but little action. The most recent playing down of the Holocaust by the NPD chairman Udo Voigt on the occasion of an interview with an Iranian journalist, for example, had hardly triggered off any reactions from politics, she said. Except the SPD member Sebastian Edathy, nobody had brought a charge against him. Also the number of taboo breaches such as the disparagements of crimes against Jews in the television have recently experienced an increase, said Knobloch. A statement of the Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed an increase in propaganda-related crimes with an anti-Semitic background during the past year. Therefore, Knobloch called for initiating a discussion that involves the whole society arguing that the current developments would be highly dangerous as the NPD party and right-wing extremist groups would act today in similarly subtle ways as the Nazis did between 1920 and 1925. Also the new ambassador of Israel in Germany, Yoram Ben Zeev, called for a fight against anti-Semitism saying that anti-Semitism must never be tolerated.
Die Welt 27.12.07

Turkish mothers explain their daughters only rarely the facts of life and sexuality

According to a representative survey conducted by the Federal Centre for Health Education, only a few Turkish mothers seem to talk with their daughters about sexuality: Only 16 per cent of the Turkish girls asked in the survey said to have obtained the corresponding knowledge from their mothers. Among German girls the percentage amounted to 70 per cent. Nursen Aktas of Pro Familia confirmed that there would be still huge differences between German and Turkish citizens in their dealing with the topic of sexuality. When working at schools she experienced again and again that Turkish girls were informed by far less about the anatomy of women and men and about sexuality compared to Germans.
taz 12.12.07

Federal Ministry of the Interior presents explosive study on religious and political positions of Muslims in Germany

On 19 December 2007, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) presented a study titled "Muslime in Deutschland" (Muslims in Germany), which aroused a lot of attention. The aim of the study was to gather sound findings about the positions of Muslims living Germany with regard to their social and political integration. Summarizing the study"s findings Schäuble said that even though it would shed a peaceful light on the positions of the majority of the Muslims, it also had produced the worrying finding that in Germany an Islamistic potential towards radicalisation had evolved that needed to be taken seriously. The latter statement is based on findings such as the fact that 6 per cent of the Muslims highly accepted "more massive forms of violence motivated by political- religious reasons" or that more than 38 per cent of the total of 1,000 adults asked in the study said that the threats Islam was exposed to by the policy of the West would justify that Muslims defended themselves by using violence. Moreover, 10 per cent of the Muslims distanced themselves from democracy. On the other hand, the study revealed that only 5.5 per cent of the respondents agreed to the statement that violence would be justified to implement Islam; moreover, 90 per cent would be of the opinion that suicide attacks were coward and did harm to the cause of Islam. The public"s reactions to the study were quite different: While the secretary-general of the CSU party, Christine Haderthauer, immediately warned of parallel societies and CSU member and Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Joachim Herrmann, pronounced himself in favour of demanding from Muslims the signing an official declaration of renunciation of force, the spokesman of the Muslim Coordination Council, Bekir Alboga, pointed to the fact that the opinions of young Muslims about democracy and constitutional state would no differ considerably from the one of non-Muslims, which he considered one of the most important findings of the study. Moreover, he called for a careful and not only one-sided dealing with the study"s findings.
Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) 18.12.07 // FR 20.12.07 // FAZ 21.12.07 // taz 21.12.07 // NZ 21.12.07 // SZ 22.12.07

Asylum statistics

In December 2007, a total of 1,265 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an decrease of 35.2 per cent (-688 persons) compared to November 2007. Compared to December 2006, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 16.6 per cent (-251 persons). In December, the main countries of origin were Iraq (407), Serbia (98), Turkey (86) and Vietnam (74) followed by Syria (66). In December, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 1,990 asylum applications. Twenty-three persons (1.2 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 597 persons (30 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 764 persons (38.4 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 561 persons (28.2 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI 10.01.08

Annual asylum statistics 2007

From January until December 2007, a total of 19,164 persons have applied for asylum in Germany. Compared to 2006, the number of asylum applicants decreased by 9 per cent (-1,865). The main countries of origin were Iraq (4,327), Serbia (1,996), Turkey (1,437) and Vietnam (987) followed by the Russian Federation (772). In 2007, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 28,572 asylum applications. Three hundred and four persons (1.1 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 6,893 persons (24.1 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The petitions of 12,749 applicants (44.6 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 7,953 persons (27.8 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI 10.01.08

December 2007

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