German authorities were unable to establish the origins of more than 470 people seeking asylum last year. Meanwhile, fewer rejected asylum seekers have been deported due to the pandemic.
Germany's migration and refugee authorities have released data showing that they were unable to determine the origins of more than 470 asylum seekers last year.
According to asylum statistics, 4,535 people were recorded as having an "unestablished" origin for the purposes of their asylum applications, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) said. However, for the majority of these people, "unestablished" does not necessarily mean that their country of origin was not known, a spokesperson explained. Most were Kurds or Arabs – predominantly Palestinians – who had resided in a country but had not been nationals of that country.
In these cases, the security situation in the respective country of residence – for example Syria – is the decisive factor for the asylum decision, the spokesperson added. For example, Palestinians living as refugees in Syria can exercise almost all civil rights there. As a rule, however, they do not receive Syrian citizenship.
People seeking asylum are also registered as having "unestablished" nationality if the information they provide about their country of origin is refuted or judged to be implausible by BAMF, but no other nationality can be established.
The number of asylum seekers in Germany listed as having unestablished nationality has remained at around 4,000 per year for several years: this reflects a rise as a proportion of the number of people applying for protection, which has been decreasing since 2017.
In April, "unestablished" was the fourth-most common category of nationality among applicants for protection, after Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In total, 102,581 foreigners applied for asylum in Germany for the first time in 2020. Among them were 26,520 applications for protection involving children under the age of 1 born in Germany.
Fewer deportations from Germany
The number of people forcibly returned from Germany to their country of origin has dropped sharply as a result of the pandemic. In the first three months of 2021, a total of 2,880 people were deported. In the first quarter of 2020, there were 4,088 deportations, while more than 5,000 people were deported in same period in 2019. The figures from the German interior ministry were reported by the Funke Media Group on Tuesday.
Most people deported in the first three months of this year were returned to Georgia (280), Albania (227), Moldavia (143) and Serbia (134), according to the interior ministry. 78 people were sent back to Afghanistan.
Ulla Jelpke, from the left party 'Die Linke' criticized the government for continuing deportations in spite of the pandemic, which she said had caused enormous economic upheaval and exacerbated social hardship in many countries. Forced deportations under these circumstances demonstrated a lack of regard for humanity and human rights, she said.