German migration authorities are struggling to cope with a huge backlog of asylum applications. Bundeswehr officers would like to help, but are not being allowed to, a German newspaper report says.
German Bundeswehr officers are being excluded from helping migration authorities to work through more than 300,000 outstanding asylum applications, despite being qualified and willing to do so, a newspaper reported on Monday.
The newspaper "Die Welt" cited an internal paper from the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Personnel Management as saying that officers ranking from lieutenant to senior captain were categorically excluded from working for the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Officers holding these ranks, who are classed as civil servants, would technically be able to be entrusted with the task of processing asylum applications. The paper quoted officers as saying that up to 10 percent of the Bundeswehr's some 20,000 officers could be deployed for such service under army regulations.
The Bundeswehr has so far declined to comment on the report, and the reason for the exclusion remain unclear.
Lower ranking Bundeswehr personnel, who are not qualified to decide on asylum applications, are already helping the BAMF with tasks such as registering refugees' personal details and scanning documents, the Defense Ministry says.
Germany is also considering using Bundeswehr transport aircraft to deport refugees whose applications have been rejected.
Three weeks ago, the head of BAMF, Frank-Jürgen Weise, said that 3,000 more personnel were needed to cope with the backlog of asylum applications, with each case requiring at least three months to process.
Some 670,000 people have already arrived in Europe this year seeking refuge or better living conditions, most of them from conflict-ridden countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands have been making their way along a route through the Balkans toward northern European countries, with Germany often a preferred destination.