Germany aims to begin processing the asylum claims of tens of thousands of people many of whom already have refugee status in Greece. The applications had been put on hold by German migration authorities.
The German news magazine Spiegel has reported that the German Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) plans to start processing more than 40,000 asylum applications from people who already have refugee status in Greece.
The number of people arriving irregularly in Germany from Greece has risen sharply in recent years. According to the German Joint Analysis Center on Illegal Migration (GASIM), more than 80% of the arrivals are Afghan nationals.
Under EU rules they would have been sent back to Greece, but after the German courts said deportees must not be returned because their basic needs would not be met and they would face extreme material hardship there, BAMF has had applications from Greece on hold.
The German Interior ministry has announced that this is about to change, according to Spiegel. The magazine reported on Saturday (March 19) that the freeze on the processing of around 41,000 applications was set to end.
It is unclear whether, or when, applicants will be required to leave Germany and return to Greece. According to Spiegel, German migration authorities are to process the applications and reach their decision based on the usual asylum criteria.
Move follows aid deal for Greece
The announcement that the claims are to be processed by BAMF follows recent talks between German interior minister Nancy Faeser and Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis. The two sides reportedly agreed on key points of a German assistance program to help house and care for refugees in Greece.
Spiegel adds that it remains to be seen whether the aid agreement will bring conditions in Greece to a level which will satisfy the German courts that refugees will receive adequate protection there.