The number of migrants traveling to Germany with fake Syrian passports is far smaller than the interior minister once implied. Syrian citizens currently have some of the best chances of being deemed refugees by Germany.
Following an official query to the government from Germany's left-wing opposition party "Die Linke" on the number of refugees with falsified papers, authorities did a random check of documents belonging to Syrian citizens.
"Die Linke" posed the question after Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said earlier that around 30 percent of refugees providing Syrian documentation had falsified papers.
In all, 6822 documents were checked between January and October this year, of which eight percent were rejected as false, according to a government report obtained by news agency AFP.
The government's answer to the leftist party's question noted that the numbers originally cited by the interior minister were "not a statistically determined number, but an estimate based on the perceptions of local authorities."
Die Linke's spokeswoman in parliament for domestic affairs, Ulla Jelpke, criticized Interior Minister de Maiziere for his earlier statement. "The German government finally admits that there are no valid numbers for counterfeits or manipulations in refugees' documents," Jelpke said, continuing that "instead of looking inside his crystal ball," de Maiziere should check facts.
She also demanded that the interior minister publicly apologize for his statement on fake passports. The fact that a personal document was rejected did not necessarily mean that the refugee wanted to deceive authorities, Jelpke also said.
"More patience" from refugees
Meanwhile, Interior Minister de Maiziere criticized the "language of hate" in the ongoing refugee debate in Germany. Speaking at the annual CDU party conference in Karslruhe, he said that the government needed to find "a balance between our humanitarian responsibility and avoiding overload." He also appealed to refugees in Germany for more patience. "If our country shoulders one million refugees, that can be possible only if those who come to us are more patient and do not resort to violence," de Maiziere told his party colleagues.
Migrants fleeing the conflict in Syria have good chances of being granted asylum in Germany, which recognizes them as victims of civil war. This does not hold true for migrants from the Balkans and other designated "safe countries," whose chances at asylum depend on them being able to demonstrate a personal case of persecution or danger.
Earlier this week, European authorities said that around 10,000 blank passports had disappeared from Iraq and Syria and that these could be used to fake identities of migrants wishing to enter Europe. The report also said that the passports were in areas dominated by extremists belonging to the self-styled "Islamic State." US authorities also warned several days ago that IS jihadis could use fake passports to enter Europe.
mg/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)