The German interior ministry is considering to introduce limitations to admission numbers of Afghan refugees. According to the news magazine Der Spiegel, a maximum of 5,000 Afghans considered to be at risk in their home country will be admitted per year under the plans.
News magazine Der Spiegel said it had seen a letter from the interior ministry saying that a limit of 5,000 persons to be resettled from Afghanistan to Germany had to be in place to keep the program "operationally feasible."
Afghan human rights activists and local staff who in the past have worked for international organizations -- including the German government and German NGOs -- have been in danger of persecution since the Islamist Taliban group took over power after the withdrawal of international forces from the country last August.
When the coalition agreement for the current German government was signed in late 2021, the three coalition parties -- the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, agreed to this specific rescue program for Afghanistan, stressing that Germany "will not leave our allies behind."
Thousands remain in Afghanistan
The idea of putting a cap on numbers of Afghans to be admitted to Germany annually has been met with criticism. According to the report in Der Spiegel, Julian Pahlke, a member of the Bundestag for the Green Party, said that "civil society organizations ... have assisted 3,000 people and report tens of thousands of people still at risk."
He reportedly also stressed that the families of those at risk would also have to be accommodated as part of the program. The discussion with the ministry about the scale of the reception program was still ongoing, he noted.
Since the Taliban takeover of power, more than 3,000 local Afghan staff and their families have entered Germany, totalling 13,863 individuals, according to the German interior ministry. However, more than 10,000 people who have been granted admission by Germany continue to remain in the country with their families, hoping for a way out.
There have been claims that some of the Afghans left behind have been killed in the chaos and revenge murders since the Taliban power grab.
Acceptance rate across EU falling
The news on the upper limit on Afghans potentially being welcomed in Germany comes as Eurostat, the EU statistics office, issues the latest figures on the number of newly recognized refugees in the European Union in the past year.
According to that report, the acceptance rate has fallen by around five percent in 2021 compared to 2020. Last year, 267,360 people were granted protection status, Eurostat explained in Luxembourg on Wednesday (May 4). In 2020, there had been 281,055 positive decisions.
With most evacuations from Afghanistan however falling into the last quarter of 2021, numbers for the next report are expected to be up.
Among the receiving countries, Germany accounted for the most refugee recognitions, totalling about one-third of the total tally. This is followed by a wide margin by France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Greece.