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.