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efms Migration Report


September 2006

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UN: State of the World Population Report

The German edition of the State of the World Population Report 2006 was presented in Berlin on 6 September 2006 on the occasion of a joint press conference of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the German World Population Foundation (DSW). With 191 million migrants (95 million of them are women), more people than ever before are living outside their countries of birth and only 28 countries host three quarters of them, according to the report. Thirty three of the 36 million people who had left their home countries in the past 15 years moved to an industrialised country. In 2005, migrants transferred an amount of about 232 billion dollars to their home countries, with 167 billion dollars being destined to developing countries - this amount is more than the double of the developing aids granted. According to estimations, 2.5 million migrants are currently victims of human trafficking and would be living under slavery-like conditions. After the smuggling of weapons and drugs, human trafficking is thus the most lucrative illegal trade with an annual turnover between seven and twelve billion dollars. The vast majority of those leaving a developing country to emigrate to an OECD Member State has a secondary school degree or a higher education degree. In no other area the brain drain is as evident as in the health sector: The countries south of the Sahara would be threatened by a medical supply crisis due to the annual emigration of 20,000 skilled staff. In Liberia, for instance, only 10 nurses would be available for the care of 100,000 people, whereas in Norway the same number is in charge of only 2,000 persons. Moreover, the number of medical doctors from Malawi working in the British city of Manchester is higher than in the eastern African state itself.
Press release DSW 29.09.06 // FAZ 07.09.06 // NZZ 07.09.06 // FTD 13.09.06 // Handelsblatt 13.09.06

UN: "High Level Dialogue" on international migration

A so-called "High Level Dialogue" on the topic of "migration and development" was organised for the first time under the umbrella of the United Nations and took place in New York from 14 until 15 September 2006. Ministers and experts from 120 countries participated in the talks. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed the establishment of a "Global Forum on Migration and Development". The Forum is set to convene for the first time in Belgium in 2007. It is not foreseen that it should be authorised to take binding decisions. Much more, it is intended to be a platform for an informal, voluntary and advisory exchange of ideas.
IOM 12.09.06 // www.stern.de 12.09.06 // UN News Centre 13.09.06 // The New York Times 14.09.06 // UN News Centre 15.09.06 // UNHCR New 18.09.06

EU and UN criticise amendments to asylum law in Switzerland

On 24 September 2006, about 68 per cent of the Swiss nationals (polling figure: 48.8 per cent) who participated in the referendum voted in favour of stricter asylum and emigration law provisions. According to amendments, an application of an asylum seeker not able to present personal documents will in future be refused immediately. Asylum applicants can be sent to prison for up to two years if they refuse to "cooperate" with the authorities. Moreover, the financial support granted to them will be cut. Also the rights of foreign nationals living in Switzerland will be limited: The former provision according to which foreign nationals are authorised to obtain a residence permit after having stayed ten years in Switzerland will no longer be applied automatically. Moreover, foreign nationals who intend to stay in Switzerland for more than one year may in future be obliged to attend language and integration courses. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees criticised that the bill would be "one of the most restrictive throughout Europe"; EU Commissioner Franco Frattini considered the Swiss asylum policy as incompatible with EU standards. Left-wing parties, Christian churches and the Association of the Israeli Community considered the changes as an infringement of the International Convention on Refugees of 1951, which was also signed by Switzerland. They argue that if the new law had existed in former times, neither Jewish emigrants from Nazi Germany nor refugees coming from Hungary after the 1956 rebellion could have stayed in Switzerland.
SZ 26.09.06 // SZ 27.09.06

EU: Difficulties in finding solutions to handle refugee issues

The increasing inflow of illegal immigrants from Black Africa to Spain, Italy and Malta triggered off a partly controversial debate at a meeting of the EU Ministers responsible for Justice and Home Affairs in the Finnish town of Tampere on 21 September 2006. While the Spanish Minister for Justice, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, asked his European counterparts to provide "money, funds, resources and to show willingness", the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), refused to share the financial burdens for the time being. Even though there would be no doubt that the illegal immigration from Africa would currently encumber the Mediterranean countries with heavier burdens than the other EU Member States, the call for the money of the others, however, would always be the most comfortable approach. A prerequisite for establishing a fund to cope with the streams of refugees, which was proposed by Finland, would be the establishment of "common European minimum standards to regulate the migration policy", Schäuble said by making an allusion to Spain which in the past had offered illegal immigrants generous opportunities allowing them to stay in the country. Also the European Parliament criticised the legalisation of foreign nationals living illegally in Spain, which was offered in May 2005, as being an additional incentive to immigrate. At the same time, it made a call to the EU Ministers responsible for Justice and Home Affairs to agree on a common immigration policy and to share the financial burdens. On the occasion of an immigration summit held in Madrid on 29 September 2006, the Heads of State and Governments of Spain, France, Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Malta, Slovenia and Portugal agreed to align their actions within the EU. It was decided, inter alia, to provide the European Agency for External Borders, Frontex, with more funds.
FTD 08.09.06 // BZ 22.09.06 // FAZ 22.09.06 // SZ 29.09.06 // Die Tageszeitung 29.09.06

First German Islam Conference

On 27 September 2006 Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) opened in Berlin the first German Islam Conference (DIK in its German abbreviation) with the topic "Muslims in Germany - German Muslims" as its motto. Fifteen representatives of German authorities met with 15 representatives of the Muslim population in order to discuss about improvements in the religious and societal integration of Muslims in Germany. Besides umbrella associations such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), the Islamic Council, the Association of Islamic Cultural Centres (VIKZ) and representatives of the Alevite Community, also ten experts from the economy, society, academia and culture, who are representing a modern, secular Islam, were invited to participate. The latter point lead to controversy already before the DIK had started: Aiman Mazyek, Secretary General of the Central Council of Muslims, criticised the invitation of individuals such as Necla Kelek, arguing that the main contacts should also in future be the large umbrella organisations, which would represent "the vast majority of the Mosque community in Germany". This was contradicted by the Chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD), Kenan Kolat, who said that also non-religious migrants needed to be involved in the dialogue. Now, the talks are to be continued in three working groups set-up to discuss the topics "German social system and German values", "Religious issues and the German understanding of constitution" and "The private sector industry and the media as bridge-builders", and the discussion group of "Security and Islamism" assigned to the Conference. The objective is to agree on a kind of "social contract" in a two to three year"s time to be entered into by the German host society and the Muslim population in Germany, in which both sides agree to comply with societal and religious principles.
FR 16.09.06 // Welt am Sonntag 17.09.06 // Der Spiegel 18.09.06 // SZ 24.09.06 // FR 26.09.06 /7 NN 26.09.06 // Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) 27.09.06 // Press release BMI 28.09.06

Statements of Pope Benedict XVI perceived as Islamophobic lead to protests

During his visit to Bavaria from 9 until 14 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI quoted in his lecture held in the city of Regensburg the statement of a Byzantine emperor who said that the founder of Islam, Muhammad, had brought "only evil and inhumanity" to the world. In the Muslim world, this quotation triggered off massive protests and demands for an apology. In Rome, stricter security measures were taken following the threats of further violence against the Pope and the Western world issued by the terror network of Al-Qaeda. As a consequence, the Pope expressed his personal regrets about the statements which in his opinion were misunderstood. On 25 September 2006, he received the ambassadors of 22 Muslim countries to underline his appreciation and respect towards believers in Muslim faith. At the conference of the UN Human Rights Council, which was held at the same time, its reporter on racism and xenophobia, Doudou Diène, said he was deeply worried about the Regensburg speech of Benedict XVI. In Germany, the Chairman of the Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, said that the discussion on the Pope"s statements showed that the relations between Muslims and the German host society would still lack resilience. The Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Ayyub Axel Köhler, called upon the parties involved not to further aggravate the situation.
www.benedikt-in-bayern.de // www.vatican.va/phome_ge.htm // BZ 19.09.06 // FAZ 21.09.06 // FR 26.09.06 // NZZ 28.09.06

Bill for anti-terror database

Following year-long discussions, the German Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) presented on 4 September 2006 a bill for setting-up a anti-terror database for the security forces, which is now being discussed by the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) after its approval by the Federal Government. According to the bill, police forces and secret services are to be given direct access to a common computer database which serves to gather data and projects to fight terrorism. Until the last moment, there was controversy on the data details on suspect persons to be included in the database and on the user groups to be authorised for access. Now, information on religious confessions is no longer accessible in the "open area" but to be included in the area denominated "extended basic data". The former Federal Ministry of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) welcomed this change saying that belonging to the Muslim faith does not mean automatically belonging to terror scence. Someone from Lebanon, for instance, could be of Christian faith - and be planning attacks nonetheless.
Minutes of the decisions taken on the 181st meeting of the standing conference of the Federal Interior Ministers and Senators of the Federal States held in Berlin on 4 September 2006 // FR 05.09.06 // Press release BMI 20.09.06 // FAZ 21.09.06

Aachen Peace Award 2006 given to initiative against custody to secure deportation

On 1 September 2006, the 2006 Aachen Peace Award was given to the society "Hilfe für Menschen in Abschiebehaft Büren e.V." (Help for People in Custody to Secure Deportation), an initiative supported by about 50 activists. In its reasoning, the jury said that the society would have been fighting for more than ten years against custody to secure deportation by following a constant and peaceful bottom-up-approach and would, at the same time, also provide concrete support to the persons affected in Germany"s largest detention centre to secure deportation, which is located in Büren near the city of Paderborn. The award would be aimed at calling the attention of the public to the deportation policy that would become increasingly strict and inhuman and which would favour measures against refugees over the protection of persons facing threats. In his laudatory speech, the German author Günter Wallraff criticised the German detention centres to secure deportation as being "institutions of inhumanity". "Moreover, the activists have a kind of control function in the detention centres", said Bernd Mesovic of ProAsyl. However, most of the detention centres would not appreciate such activities, he added.
www.aachener-friedenspreis.de // Die Tageszeitung 02.09.06

Baden-Württemberg: Pilot project on Islamic instruction classes

With the beginning of the new school year on 18 September 2006, a pilot project scheduled to extend over four years will be launched in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg: A total of 235 children in the first two school years will receive Islamic instruction classes, which are oriented towards the Sunni belief at ten primary schools and towards Alevite belief at two primary schools. The classes taught in German will be held by teachers belonging to the corresponding religious belief. According to the Ministry of Culture, there is a good demand for the classes. If this offer proves to be successful, the Islamic instruction classes will be extended to all schools in this federal state. The introduction of Islamic instruction classes at school taught in German is also supported by the Federal President, Horst Köhler, and Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU).
FR 06.09.06 // Wirtschaftswoche (online) 09.09.06 // SZ 18.09.06 // FAZ 22.09.06 // Handelsblatt 26.09.06

Berlin: Presentations of the "Idomeneo" opera temporarily suspended due to potential risks

The director of the German Opera in Berlin, Kristen Harms, decided to cancel four presentations of "Idomeneo" scheduled on the November programme. This decision was taken against the background that in the end of Hans Neuenfels" staging, the eponymous hero brings onto stage, inter alia, the bloody, cut-off head of Muhammad. Against this backdrop, a woman called the Federal Police to express her concerns. A risk analysis prepared subsequently by the State Office for Criminal Investigation came to the conclusion that the staging would bear "risks of incalculable outcomes". So far, however, no threats have been issued against the production. The decision taken by the director, who wanted to rule out any risks, triggered off a harsh debate: While the Berlin Senator of Culture, Flierl (Left Party), qualified Harm"s decision as "comprehensible", Federal Interior Minister Schäuble (CDU) said he was angry about it. Also Faruk Sen of the Centre for Turkish Studies criticised the cancellation saying that the Muslims in Germany would, once again, be unjustly qualified as intolerant.
FAZ 27.09.06 // FR 28.09.06

Berlin: Temporary withdrawal of lawyer Ates from exercising her profession triggers off debate

After ten years of fighting as a female lawyer in Berlin against honour killings and forced marriages to support Muslim women and girls, the female lawyer Seyran Ates returned in August her admission to practice as a lawyer following repeated attacks and threats of murder. Her withdrawal triggered off a debate about the question if it is dangerous to life to fight for the rights of Muslim women in Germany. Maria Böhmer (CDU), Parliamentary Undersecretary for Migration, Integration and Refugees said she was very sad about this decision since Ates was known to her as being a courageous fighter. Therefore she would assure her of providing any support needed. Due to the finally "overwhelming solidarity" Ates has now announced she would return to practice as a lawyer. At hearings considered dangerous, she now gets personal security.
FR 06.09.06 // Welt am Sonntag 17.09.06

Asylum statistics

In September 2006, a total of 1,631 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 14.1 per cent (-268 persons) compared to August 2006. Compared to September 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 34.9 per cent (-876 persons). The main countries of origin in September 2006 were Serbia (269), Turkey (141) and Iraq (139) followed by the Russian Federation (104) and Vietnam (73). In September 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the petitions of 2,129 asylum seekers, 17 (0.8 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 74 persons (3.5 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1.215 persons (57.0 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 823 persons (38.7 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Press release BMI of 10.10.06


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