The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has confirmed that it has put decisions regarding asylum for many Syrians “on hold.” According to reports by a German media group, the postponement is due to a reassessment of the security situation in Syria.
Germany has stopped processing some applications for asylum by Syrians. Decisions made by the BAMF are put on hold pending a new assessment of the security situation in Syria, according to reports by the German Funke media group published Saturday.
In light of this pause, those who work for refugee organizations in Germany are worried that the German government’s position regarding Syrian asylum seekers could be about to get tougher for new applicants and particularly for those who have currently qualified for subsidiary protection and are due for reassessment.
Subsidiary protection under paragraph four of the asylum law applies when neither refugee protection nor an entitlement to asylum can be granted and serious harm is threatened in the country of origin. Paragraph four defines this serious threat as a death sentence, human rights abuses, or conflict. In 2018 over 17,411 people were granted this type of subsidiary protection under paragraph four of the asylum law.
Forthcoming talks between ministries
For now, the BAMF has put its decision concerning Syrians on hold. Talks between the Interior Ministry, which heads the BAMF, and the Federal Foreign Office about the current security situation in Syria are expected in the next few weeks. The Catholic news agency KNA quoted a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry saying that new announcements would follow “soon” and that up until now, nothing has been ruled out.
At the end of 2018, however, the Federal Foreign Office stated that there was no protection for those under threat anywhere in Syria, making the possibility of qualifying for protection under paragraph four an almost foregone conclusion.
However, in the middle of March, the BAMF amended its own assessment guidelines concerning the security situation in Syria based on a conclusion that there was no longer conflict and weapons in all regions of Syria. The Interior Ministry has not made a final decision over these new guidelines, according to AFP.
Could more Syrians be refused asylum in future?
Pro-refugee organizations are worried that in the future, if the German government follows its own reassessment of the security situation in Syria, asylum seekers from Syria could either get a simple refusal or could be allowed to stay in Germany only for as long as the European human rights law states that they cannot be returned to Syria on ‘humanitarian grounds.’
The German government’s decision was criticized by the liberal opposition party, the FDP. Their party vice-chairperson Stephan Thomae said that the government shouldn’t just put decisions on hold until it has made clear its position on the security situation. Thomae added that when the security situation in Syria was clear, then, at that future point, decisions on asylum could be reassessed. According to BAMF figures, in 2018, only 69 Syrians were refused the asylum they applied for.