Ger­many eases asy­lum re­stric­tions for Syr­i­ans


Ger­many con­firmed Tues­day it has stopped re­turn­ing Syr­ian asy­lum seek­ers to their first port of en­try in the EU, an ac­tion hailed as “Euro­pean sol­i­dar­ity” as thou­sands more mi­grants pour into the bloc seek­ing refuge.

Record num­bers of mi­grants are stream­ing into EU mem­ber Hungary from Ser­bia, pos­ing a new headache for re­gional lead­ers at a sum­mit this week set to be dom­i­nated by Europe’s worst mi­grant cri­sis since World War II.

As crit­i­cism mount over the bloc’s fail­ure to find a re­sponse to tackle the cri­sis, Ger­many said it has waived a key EU pro­ce­dure re­gard­ing asy­lum claims for Syr­i­ans, be­com­ing the first coun­try in the bloc to ef­fec­tively sim­plify the process for those flee­ing the war-torn coun­try.

“For the com­mis­sion, this con­sti­tutes a recog­ni­tion of the fact that we can­not leave the mem­ber states at the ex­ter­nal borders alone in deal­ing with a large num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers seek­ing refuge in Europe,” said Natasha Ber­taud, spokes­woman for the EU Com­mis­sion.

Un­der the so-called Dublin rules, the first EU coun­try that an asy­lum­seeker ar­rives in is re­quired to process the claimant’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

In prac­tice, this means

that coun­tries on the EU’s borders like Greece or Italy are over­whelmed with ap­pli­ca­tions as thou­sands ar­rive by sea on their shores.

Hungary, another EU coun­try with ex­ter­nal borders, is rush­ing to build a vast ra­zor-wire bar­rier to keep out mi­grants, fear­ing that it would be over­whelmed by asy­lum re­quests.

Al­most 2,100 peo­ple, the high­est ever daily to­tal, crossed into Hungary near the town of Rozko, one of the few sec­tions of the bor­der not yet sealed off by the bar­rier.

They were among 7,000 refugees whose haz­ardous jour­ney to the Euro­pean Union was tem­po­rar­ily blocked last week when Mace­do­nia de­clared a state of emer­gency and shut its borders for three days to halt the huge in­flux of peo­ple mostly flee­ing war in Syria.

Author­i­ties re­opened the cross­ing af­ter chaotic scenes in­volv­ing po­lice lob­bing stun grenades at mi­grants try­ing to break through the bor­der.

“We were stopped in Mace­do­nia for two days, the ri­ots were ter­ri­ble, po­lice used guns and tear­gas, I saw an old woman beaten, her money and pa­pers taken,” said a 29-yearold IT engi­neer from Mo­sul in Iraq who said he had left his home to es­cape the Is­lamic State group. He asked not to be named.

‘Europe’s ap­proach not work­ing’

The U.N.’s refugee agency said on Tues­day it ex­pected the num­ber of refugees mov­ing through Mace­do­nia to dou­ble from around 1,500 per day to 3,000 per day, many of them women and chil­dren.

It warned that the sit­u­a­tion was also wors­en­ing on the shores of Greece and Italy, where the num­ber of Mediter­ranean sea cross­ings was now ap­proach­ing 300,000.


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