Row over refugees’ sta­tus re­opens di­vi­sions in Ger­man gov­ern­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BER­LIN: Just two days af­ter re­solv­ing a coali­tion row over how to han­dle a record in­flux of refugees, Ger­many’s rul­ing par­ties are em­broiled in an­other spat over whether to limit the asy­lum rights of refugees from Syria. The gov­ern­ment was forced to clar­ify on Fri­day that its asy­lum pol­icy for refugees from Syria re­mained un­changed af­ter the in­te­rior min­is­ter said they would re­ceive a mod­i­fied refugee sta­tus and be barred from hav­ing fam­ily mem­bers join them.

But the com­ments made by Thomas de Maiziere in a ra­dio in­ter­view have re­opened a rift be­tween Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s Chris­tian Democrats (CSU), its Bavar­ian sis­ter party (CSU) and their So­cial Demo­crat (SPD) coali­tion part­ners. Yes­ter­day, Ralf Steg­ner, deputy chair­man of the SPD, ac­cused the CDU of mak­ing half­baked pro­pos­als in­stead of im­ple­ment­ing the de­ci­sions agreed on by the coali­tion. Re­strict­ing fam­ily re­unions would only mean that more women and chil­dren would un­der­take the dan­ger­ous jour­ney from Syria to Europe, he said, adding that the SPD op­posed the idea.

“It’s off the ta­ble as far as the SPD is con­cerned,” Steg­ner told Ger­man ra­dio. “This won’t wash with the SPD, and the CDU knows this per­fectly well.” How­ever, law­mak­ers from the CSU, who gov­ern the state of Bavaria which has borne the brunt of the refugee in­flux, backed de Maiziere’s pro­pos­als.

“Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Syr­i­ans are get­ting shel­ter here, but it must only be sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion - this means for a lim­ited pe­riod and with­out hav­ing fam­ily mem­bers join them,” An­dreas Scheuer, the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU) told Bild am Son­ntag. Sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion means mi­grants are not granted asy­lum or refugee sta­tus and their rights are lim­ited. The lat­est row comes af­ter the coali­tion ended weeks of in­fight­ing on Thurs­day evening on how to speed up the de­por­ta­tion of asy­lum seek­ers who have lit­tle chance of be­ing al­lowed to stay.


It is not the first time de Maiziere, a re­served man who prefers to op­er­ate out of the spot­light, has come un­der at­tack over his han­dling of the in­flux of hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grants, many of whom are flee­ing war in the Mid­dle East. De Maiziere was lam­basted by mass-sell­ing daily Bild ear­lier this week for tak­ing a short break in Ma­jorca while the gov­ern­ment strug­gled to man­age the pace and scale of the in­flux, which is putting com­mu­ni­ties un­der strain. Last month Merkel ap­pointed her chief of staff Pe­ter Alt­maier to over­see the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the cri­sis, a move widely viewed as a re­buff to de Maiziere. — Reuters

BU­JUM­BURA: Bu­run­di­ans carry their be­long­ings in Bu­jum­bura yes­ter­day. Car­ry­ing their prized pos­ses­sions, scores of peo­ple fled Bu­rundi’s cap­i­tal yes­ter­day be­fore a loom­ing se­cu­rity crack­down that has left many pre­dict­ing more bloody vi­o­lence ahead. — AP

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