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efms Migration Report

October 2008

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UN: Number of climate refugees expected to increase

The growing number of persons who have to leave their home countries due to the climate change as well as the social impact of this kind of migration were the topics discussed at thenational Conference on Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability (EFMSV) of the United Nations (UN), which was held from 9 - 11 October in Bonn. The objective pursued by the approximately 400 participating scientists, government experts and representatives of authorities was to take an inventory of environmental migration, to analyse the reasons behind it and to discuss political measures that could be taken. According to estimates, the number of environmental refugees will amount to 200 million persons by 2050 alone. Prof. Janos Bogardi, director of the Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) of the UN University in Bonn said that all signs indicated that humanity will face a new and huge global challenge. Moreover, migration as a consequence of the climate change could pose a threat to the global security. Also the composition of this group of refugees will change in the long run: Instead of young migrants looking for work rather poorer and older people as well as women will be displaced by the consequences of the climate change.
dpa 09.10.08

First EU advisory centre on migration opened in Africa

On 6 October 2008 the first Centre for Migration Information and Management (CIGEM) of the European Union (EU) opened in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The CIGEM is to support the Mali government in setting-up its own migration policy. In concrete, it was assigned four functions: the investigation of the migration in Mali and the region, offering information and support to both potential emigrants and voluntary or forced returnees, information on legal migration opportunities to Europe and sensitisation about the threats connected with illegal migration and the inclusion of the Malian diaspora to participate in the development of the country. According to the CIGEM"s own mission statement, the institution is part of an extended strategy for combating illegal migration into the EU: Instead of merely blocking migrants at the EU borders, the living conditions in the countries of origin are to be improved by promoting development in order to tackle one of the reasons for migration. The CIGEM was criticised, inter alia, by the Organisation of Deported Malians (AME). AME president Ousmane Diarra said the Centre served above all to control and prevent migration flows and to deter and discourage people. Moreover, he was concerned that the EU policy of "selected migration" of elites could create a new phenomenon, the so-called "Kleenex migration" ("clean" migration in accordance with European needs).
taz 07.10.08

EU: Guidelines of a new migration policy adopted

On the occasion of their summit held in Brussels on 16 October 2008, the heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) have adopted now the "European Pact on Immigration and Asylum". The pact marks an important step towards the harmonisation of the treatment of illegal immigrants in the EU Member States. The primary goal would be to promote the immigration of highly qualified persons into the EU, which is considered to be of economic benefit, and to intensify the fight against illegal immigration. The document contains the general guidelines, which are legally not binding but oblige the Member States to align their measures. Every Member State will also in future decide on its own on the conditions and the extent of legal immigration. One of the core elements adopted will be the distribution of asylum seekers to other EU Member States which had been claimed by the EU"s Mediterranean Member States for a long time. The distribution process is to be implemented on a "voluntary and co-ordinated" basis. Further elements of the Pact are: General legalisations of illegal migrants will no longer be possible; biometric visas are to be introduced by 2012; the border protection agency Frontex will be strengthened and expanded and a common asylum procedure throughout the EU is to be established by 2012, at the latest. The President of the EU Council and French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the Pact allowed Europe finally to pursue a real immigration policy. Critics such as Pro Asyl or Angelika Beer, Member of the European Parliament, are concerned the Pact could lead to more isolation and deportations.
Press release of Pro Asyl 15.10.08 // FR 15.10.08 // FR 17.10.08 // taz 17.10.08

ECJ strengthens right of residence of young Turks

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on 25 September 2008 that the residence permits of young Turks in Germany may not be subjected to specific requirements. Authorities in Berlin refused to extend the residence permit of a 23-year-old Turk who came to Germany within the framework of family reunification; the person in question had left school prematurely and not finished several qualification courses. The Luxembourg judges argued in their decision that the plaintiff must not be withdrawn his residence title as he would be otherwise excluded from the access to the labour market, to which he was entitled as Turkish national. The fact that the plaintiff still had no gainful employment at his age of 23 would not withstand the granting of a residence permit to him. The Turkish communities in Germany welcomed the ECJ"s decision. Now, Berlin would be no longer allowed to threaten with a denial of the right to remain in case a person leaves school prematurely or commits an offence.
Der Tagesspiegel online 08.10.08 // SZ 11.10.08 //

Politics promotes naturalisations

Against the background of declining naturalisation figures, the commissioners for integration and foreign residents of the Federal Government, the federal states and the municipalities decided at their federal conference in Dresden on 6 - 7 October 2008, as already before at the conference on federal state level in Hanover on 30 September 2008, to increase the promotional efforts for the German citizenship among foreigners. Besides a poster campaign initiated by the Federal Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU), an aggressive advertisement campaign by public administrations and naturalisation authorities as well as more frequent naturalisation ceremonies are being planned. Moreover, a working group is to prepare proposals on how to make the naturalisation more appealing to non-Germans. The Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), explained that for the future it was intended to communicate much more intensively a "welcome culture".
dpa 30.09 // press release of BMI 07.10.08 // press release of the Federal Government 10.10.08 //Kölnische Rundschau online 16.10.08 // Rheinische Post 17.10.08

Construction of prestigious mosques rapidly increasing in Germany

According to information of the Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv (Central Institute Islam-Archive) in the city of Soest, the number of newly constructed mosques in Germany is continuously growing. At the moment, there are 206 mosques throughout Germany (the so-called "backyard mosques" not included); another 120 mosques are under construction or being planned. The largest Islamic sacral building so far existing in Germany, the Merkez Mosque in Duisburg-Marxloh, opened its doors on 26 October 2008; on 16 October 2008, the first large-size new mosque in eastern Germany was inaugurated in the Pankow district of Berlin. The growing presence of Islam in Germany being accompanied by an increased number of newly built, prestigious mosques meets with many different reactions in the society. While the mosque in Duisburg was built without encountering major opposition, similar projects in cities like Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin or Munich triggered off (above all on municipal level) political and social protests. The protests are particularly fuelled by concerns about an "Islamisation of the urban districts". In contrast, the debates focussing on the integration policy aspects stress the fact that the change in practicing religion from so-called backyard mosques to publicly visible places of prayer would be a sign that the Muslims have finally become a part of the German society. Against the background of the symbolic increase of social importance of Islam, the Christian churches emphasize the freedom of religion on the one hand; on the other hand, they also admonished that in a society with an increasing religious diversity religious buildings should not be misused as a claim to power or to express rivalry and aggressive competition.
Der Spiegel 5.10.08 // BZ 13.10.08 // KNA 13.10.08 // SZ 16.10.08 // Die Welt 17.10.08 // Die Welt 22.10.08 // Die Welt 27.10.08 // taz 29.10.08

New expert council for migration and integration

The first independent expert council for migration and integration was founded on 15 October 2008 by eight German foundations (Mercator, Volkswagen, Bertelsmann, Freudenberg, Körber, Vodafone, Hertie and die Zeit foundations). The core activities of the expert council composed of academics from different disciplines will comprise the taking of inventories, development analyses, critical counselling of politics and information of the general public on the topics of integration and migration. In future, an annual report as well as an annual integration barometer will be published, for the preparation of which both the majority society and the immigrants will be interviewed for the first time. Rüdiger Frohn from the Mercator Foundation and chairman of the board of trustees of the expert council emphasised that in the past no systematic and "independent and critical counselling" of politics on the topics of integration and migration had existed in Germany. This function would be fulfilled in future by the expert council.
taz 16.10.08 // FR 16.10.08

Migrants" associations criticise implementation of the national integration plan

On the occasion of the third integration summit summoned by the Federal Government on 6 November 2008, migrant associations criticised the implementation of the national integration plan. The integration plan adopted on the first integration summit held in 2006 contains more than 400 measures and voluntary commitments to contribute to a better integration of immigrants into the German society. In an provisional appraisal, 17 of the total of 30 migrant organisations participating in the summit (such as the Turkish community in Germany, the Union of Spanish Parents" Associations as well as the CGIL-education network) declared that the conditions for integration in Germany had rather worsened than improved. The paper lines out that negative developments were observed particularly in core areas of the integration policy, such as education and labour. The access of children and youths with migration background to higher education institutions, for instance, had further deteriorated. Moreover, it was criticised that the reunification of spouses and the naturalisation of spouses willing to join their partners were much more complicated by the compulsory German language skills stipulated in the Immigration Act of 2007 and by the new naturalisation test. The Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), rejected the critics of the associations by arguing that even though many things were indeed left to be done, considerable progress had been achieved in the area of integration during the past year. It would be surprising that migrant organisations criticised the implementation of the integration plan to which they added important contributions themselves, said Böhmer.
Press release of the Federal Government 27.10.08 // taz 27.10.08 // Der Spiegel online 29.10.08

Berlin: Hub for Vietnamese human traffickers

According to the Berlin State Office for Criminal Investigation (LKA), Berlin has become the centre for the activities of Vietnamese human traffickers. Estimates suggest that more than 1,000 Vietnamese nationals are annually smuggled via the German capital to France and further on to England. Their number would rise almost monthly. The authorities see one reason for the increase in the existence of the strong Vietnamese infrastructure in the eastern parts of Berlin. There, human traffickers and their clients could easily go underground. A joint German-French investigation group (GEG) consisting of ten experts from each country will now try to combat and reduce the trafficking in humans.
Focus 16.10.08

Federal Administrative Court: No unlimited right of residence for foreigners caring for family members

Foreigners who cannot earn their livelihood themselves because they care for a family member are not entitled to be granted an unlimited settlement permit in Germany. This statement is part of the decision of the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) in Leipzig published on 28 October 2008. In its reasoning it said that according to the legal situation, the securing of one"s own livelihood constituted a compulsory prerequisite for the granting of an unlimited right of residence following its application. Even though there were exceptions in the case of foreigners who cannot fulfil this requirement due to being ill themselves or because of a disability, these could not be applied for the provision of care services to others.
Press release of BVerwG 28.10.08 // FAZ 29.10.08

Asylum statistics

In October 2008, a total of 1,947 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. This is a decrease of 0.9 per cent (-18 persons) over both the month before and compared to October 2007 with 1.3 per cent (+25 persons). The main countries of origin in October were Iraq (615), Turkey (109), Vietnam (95), Iran (89) followed by Syria (85). In October, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 1,597 asylum applications. A total of 555 persons (34.8 per cent) were recognised as refugees under the Geneva Refugee Convention. These included 17 persons (1.1 per cent) who were recognised as entitled to asylum under Art. 16a of the German Basic Law, and 538 persons (33.7 per cent) protected under § 3 of the Asylum Procedure Act in conjunction with § 60 (1) of the Residence Act. The applications of 507 persons (31.7 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 499 persons (31.2 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 the BMI 12.11.08

October 2008

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