Germany has issued over 1,000 visas to earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria using a new procedure, according to the foreign ministry. Yet the bureaucratic hurdles to obtain visas remain high. Meanwhile, Afghan women demand more German help for Afghans at risk from the Taliban.
Germany has been using a new procedure designed to help victims of the February 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
A total of 1,333 visas had been issued to those affected by the devastation as of Friday (March 3), a foreign ministry spokesman in Berlin said.
That number includes 1,097 that qualified under a new, simplified procedure put in place after the disaster, as well as visas issued under existing regulations for family reunification, according to the ministry.
The new procedure is aimed at assisting victims in both countries, but there are differences: while Turkish nationals specifically affected by the earthquake can stay with relatives in Germany for up to 90 days, Syrian victims, on the other hand, have the option to apply for national visas for a permanent stay in Germany.
Read more: Fast-track visas for Turkish earthquake victims only
Despite the eased visa conditions, many of the bureaucratic hurdles to obtain a visa for Germany remain high.
A valid passport and biometric photograph are required, for example -- but many victims say key documents were lost in the earthquake. Moreover, few people in Turkey own a passport to begin with, as they are costly and only necessary for international travel.
More than 50,000 people died in the twin earthquakes -- which were followed by thousands of aftershocks -- in Turkey and Syria last month.
Read more: Earthquake survivors face long delays for German visas
Afghan women demand more German help
Meanwhile, Afghan women living in exile in Germany and the Netherlands appealed to governments on Wednesday (March 8) to intensify their efforts in bringing Afghans who are at risk from the Taliban to Germany.
"We feel betrayed by Western states," read a declaration signed by more than 80 women circulated at an International Women's Day event in Berlin.
The promises made by the German government to expand and speed up entry have so far been insufficiently implemented, the group told dpa reporters.
The status of women in Afghanistan is precarious, and many of their rights -- for example, to education -- have been taken from them.
"After Western forces fled, the country developed into the most misogynistic country in the world within a few months," the statement read.
Since the Islamist Taliban seized power in August 2021, former employees of foreign armed forces and human rights activists in Afghanistan have faced persecution.
The Afghan women also called on the German government to increase the number of asylum seekers allowed to come to Germany with a special admission program, which is currently capped at 1,000 per month. Moreover, the group demanded more humanitarian visas and simpler processes for family reunification.
Read more: Afghanistan 'world's most repressive country' for women: UN
With dpa, epd