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efms Migration Report


June 1998

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Amnesty International calls for improved detention-protection for refugees

The German section of Amnesty International called on the Bundestag to amend the Aliens Act in order to improve protection from deportation for refugees. The demands of the human rights group, put forward at their annual convention, target, in particular, refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia. According to the decision of the federal administrative court, protection from political persecution is not awarded to refugees from these countries since the danger does not emanate from a political state authority. According to Amnesty figures, the refugees are not being deported at the moment only because there are no legal transport routes to their native countries.
FAZ 2.6.98 // FR 2.6.98 // SZ 2.6.98


Asylum seekers protest against food packages

Asylum seekers housed in a lower Franconian district are protesting against against food packages which they see as inadequate provisions. They call instead for vouchers with a certain value which would enable them to select their own provisions. Adult asylum seekers in Bavaria routinely receive per week two food packages and children one. The spokesman for the protesting asylum seekers lamented that the food packages were inadequate and one-sided and the expiry date had often been exceeded. The lower Franconian district government in Würzburg dismissed the complaints but conceded that more attention should be paid to the quality and variety of the foodstuffs.
dpa 2.6.98 // NN 3.6.98 // SZ 3.6.98 // SZ 4.6.98


Agreement reached on legal counselling for refugees at airports

According to interior ministry information, the Minister of the Interior, Manfred Kanther has come to an agreeement with representatives of the German Lawyers Union to set up legal counselling for asylum seekers at the German airports in Berlin-Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. The federal government will set up counselling quarters in each of the airports and will assume the costs of counseling. The organization of the legal counseling will remain in the hands of the local lawyers unions. The reason for establishing such counselling centers goes back to a decision made by the federal court of theconstiution in 1996 which declared the "airport regulation"( asylum law amendment) to be constitutional but demanded that legal counsel be provided at the airports for asylum seekers. The "airport regulation" applies to those asylum seekers whose applications are considered manifestly invalid because the applicants entered from "safe third countries". Such applications are dealt with in special rush proceedings during which the asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the transit area of the airport.
dpa 3.6.98 // FAZ 4.6.98 // SZ 4.6.98


.Foreign ministry and Interior Ministry coordinate measures against illegal immigration

The Federal Interior Ministry and the Foreign Office intend to coordinate their efforts to combat illegal immigration and immigrant smuggling. Both Interior Minister Manfred Kanther and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with representatives from both ministries as well as from German diplomatic missions abroad, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Border Patrol Guard and from the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees. Since, according to BGS data, the number of illegal immigrants entering Germany with forged papers continues to rise, the first preventive measure will be to have diplomatic officials in charge of issuing visas be instructed by experts on the most modern methods of forging visa papers. Moreover, Kanther and Kinkel have decided to establish a task force to coordinate the joint actions of the ministries.
Welt 5.6.98 // FAZ 9.6.98


Berlin interior minister‘s statements on alien policies trigger vehement debate

Statements made by the interior minister of Berlin, Jörg Schönbohm (CDU), in a newspaper interview, have set off a vehement debate. Schönbohm urged that foreigners adapt more thorougly to German customs. He said that foreigners "who do not wish to be integrated" should ask themselves "if they do not wish to go home again". Schönbohm lamented the existence of "ghettos" which give visitors the impression that "they are no longer in Germany". The Berlin Commissioner for Aliens, Barbara John, warned against trying to stifle the debate on alien policies with negative terms. The Berlin minister of city development, Peter Strieder (SPD) accused Schönbohm of trying to incite emotions and pandering to a certain electoral constituency.
SZ 3.6.98 // FAZ 3.6.98 // NN 3.6.98 // FR 5.6.98


Schlee: Half of all Bosnian refugees have departed from Germany

According to information of the Federal Commissioner for Bosnia, Dietmar Schlee, about 180,000 of the some 350,000 Bosnian civil-war refugees had left Germany by the end of May. They either returned to their native countries or immigrated to third countries. Schlee announced that over 40,000 Bosnians had returned to their native country since the beginning of the year. Of these, 612 were deported and another 5,000 travelled to third countries. He emphasized that the German government would continue to implement the practice of encouraging voluntary return. The total expenditures for admitting the refugees and reconstruction in Bosnia amounted to over 19 billion marks.
dpa 4.6.98 // FAZ 5.6.98 // Welt 5.6.98


Frankfurt concludes agreement with Border Patrol Guard on re-entry of alien youths

The head of the Public Order Office in Frankfurt, Udo Corts, concluded an agreement with the Border Control Guard at the Frankfurt Airport. The agreement will allow young people under the age of 16 to re-enter the country even if they are not in possession of the residence permit which becomes mandatory as of July 1. This regulation applies to Turkish, Croatian, Maroccan and ex-Yugoslavian youths. In Corts" view, the regulation takes care of the 4,000 to 7,000 alien adolescents who will not be able to obtain the required residence permit by July 1. The agreement was reached after a dispute in Frankfurt in which Corts was accused of being too late in informing alien families about the new visa requirements. Many feared that a large number of alien youths would not be able to re-enter Germany after their vacations. These young people will receive a so-called exceptional visa at the airport.
FR 6.6.98.


Federal Border Guard: rise of illegal entries in 1997

In 1997, according to the Federal Border Guard (BSG), 35,205 foreigners who had illegally entered Germany were arrested at German borders. In comparison to 1996, the number of arrests had increased by 30.3 %. Also on the rise was the number of persons who were caught entering Germany with the help of immigrant smugglers. In 1997 there were 8,288 such arrests. This is an increase of 12.5% over 1996. The number of arrested immigrant smugglers was slightly reduced with 2,203 in 1997 compared to 2,215 in 1996. The BGS attributes this development to the fact that immigrant smuggling increasingly takes place in large groups. The main country of entry for illegal immigrants is, according to BGS data, the Czech Republic.
Welt 16.6.98


Bayern ratifies Bundesrat initiative to toughen aliens law

The Bavarian state government has ratified a Bundesrat initiative which will make alien law tougher. Bayern"s proposals had set off heated debate when they were first presented. The government"s resolution contains the following points: facilitating the deportation of criminal alien minors together with their parents if the latter have gravely neglected their parental supervisory obligations; the age limit for family reunification of adolescents will be reduced from 16 to10. The justification given for the latter measure was that children who are still attending school are better able to learn German and are thus more likely to be integrated. Finally, family unification is to be linked to the condition that the family has an independent source of income and does not receive social welfare money.
taz 17.6.98


Bundestag outlaws circumcision of women

The Bundestag has passed a non-partisan motion of the committee on family affairs and women to outlaw the practice of clitoral circumcision. The committee had requested that "in implementing the asylum law, officials take into account the genital mutilation of girls and women". In this way, it is hoped that the women and girls threatened by this practice would receive residence permits in Germany. Moreover, in the future embassies are to include descriptions of clitoris circumcision in their regional reports so that such information is available to the decision-makers in Germany. Ulla Schmidt, the committee chairwoman regards the Bundestag vote as a first step in developing specifically women-oriented grounds for asylum.
taz 18.6.98


No general ban on deportation for Kosovar Albanians

Despite the fighting in the province Kosovo, the interior ministers have decided not to call a general ban on deporting refugees from this region. Federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther rejected demands for a deportation ban with the argument that the civil war did not involve the entire country, and that there were sufficient places of refuge within Serbia for those affected by the fighting. The foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, has made half a million marks availabe to the United Nations for immediate assistance to refugees at the border between Kosovo and Albania. He fears that the unrest will cause a new wave of refugees to Germany and urges that "the refugees should stay in the region". Although the Länder have refused to proclaim a ban on deportation for refugees from Kosovo, most of the state governments have decided to suspend deportations to this region for the moment.
SZ 6.6.98 // FR 8.6.98 // dpa 8.6.98 // Welt 9.6.98 // dpa 9.6.98 // dpa 18.6.98 // dpa 19.6.98


Bundestag broadens control-authority of the BGS (Federal Border Guard)

CDU/CSU, SPD and most of the FDP members of the Bundestag have ratified the amendment of the Federal Border Guard Law. The Federal Border Guard (BGS) will have the authority to carry out checks of individuals regardless of whether or not they are suspected of wrongdoing. Until now the BGS has had this authority only along the national borders and in areas no further than 30 kilometers from the borders. The new law will allow BGS officials to stop any person in train stations, trains or airports and check their identity papers. Federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther views the new law as another milestone in the struggle against general and organized criminality.
taz 20.6.98 // FAZ 26.6.98


Bundestag ratifes amendment to Asylum-Seeker Law

The Bundestag has passed an amendment to the asylum-seeker benefits law. Rejected asylum seekers will receive only drastically reduced social benefits if abuse of the asylum law can be proved. This pertains also to persons who refuse to cooperate with authorities by disguising their identities. Those aliens are exempted from the stiffer regulation who are officially tolerated, such as civil-war refugees from Bosnia. The new formulation of the asylum seeker benefits law, which goes back to a legal initiative in Berlin, was fiercely debated in the weeks prior to the Bundestag debate. Finally, the coalition agreed to several modifications of the original draft. Thus it was clarified that tolerated aliens would not be affected by the welfare cuts.
FAZ 23.6.98 // Welt 24.6.98 // FR 24.6.98 // Welt 25.6.98 // FAZ 26.6.98 // SZ 26.6.98


UNHCR: Germany remains the main receiving country in Europe for asylum seekers

The Office of the Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of the United Nations announced that in 1997, 251,000 persons applied for asylum in Europe, which was 20,000 more than had applied in 1996. Although Germany is still the main European receiving country for asylum seekers, for the first time since 1994 Germany received less than half of all asylum seekers in Europe. Moreover, the number of asylum petitions dropped from 116,000 in 1996 to 104,000 in 1997. 42 % of all asylum seekers in Europe filed their applications in Germany in 1997. The two other main receiving countries were Great Britain (16%) and the Netherlands (14%). The main countries of origin were the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Irak,Turkey, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. According to the UNHCR report, in receiving asylum applicants Germany is surpassed in the western world only by the USA, which received a total of 122,900 asylum applicants in 1997.
FAZ 5.6.98 // SZ 5.6.98 // NZ 5.6.98 // Welt 5.6.98


Research Society: 81 persons died in 1993 in flight to Germany

According to a report by the research society "Flight and Migration", a total of 81 refugees have died en route to Germany or at the German borders since the amendment to the asylum law in 1993. Of these, 60 died at Germany"s eastern borders. In the last five years, 54 refugees facing deportation committed suicide. Four refugees died after being deported to their native countries, while another 86 were tortured by the police or the military and eleven disappeared. According to the report, 33 persons died in attacks on refugee shelters in the period examined.
taz 30.6.98


Asylum statistics

According to information of the Federal Interior Ministry, the number of asylum seekers rose by 15.7% in June, compared to the previous month. A total of 7,884 asylum seekers were registered in June, whereas in May the number was 6,798. The increase in asylum applicants has been attributed to the crisis in Kosovo. Accordingly, 2,804 applicants for asylum came from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, the number of asylum seekers decreased by 5.5% in comparison to the same month of the previous year. In the first half of this year, the lowest number of asylum seekers was registered since the amendments to the asylum law on July 1, 1993. By the end of June there was a backlog of over 26,772 asylum applications. Moreover, at the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees, there are 7,576 undecided asylum applications. In the view of Federal Interior Minister Kanther, Germany should collaborate with the European partners to continue to reduce the number of asylum seekers and combat asylum abuse.
SZ 8.7.98 // FAZ 8.7.98

June 1998

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