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Germany suspends 'Dublin rules' for Syrians

August 25, 2015

Berlin has confirmed that it will stop returning Syrian asylum seekers to their first port of entry in the EU. Move has been hailed as "European solidarity" that will relieve pressure on Hungary and Greece.

Symbolbild syrische Asylbewerber in Deutschland
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Germany said Tuesday that will waive a key EU procedure and accept Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and not return them to border countries that have been accepting unprecedented waves of migrants.

"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.

The so-called "Dublin rules" state that asylum seekers are required to claim a refuge in the first EU state they arrive in. In practice, this has caused impoverished Greece and Hungary to accept a disproportionate number of claims as tens of thousands arrive overland through the Balkans.

Italy has also taken in huge numbers as seafaring migrants continue to arrive from North Africa.

EU member Hungary is building 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 Tuesday into Hungary near the town of Rozko, one of the few sections of the border not yet sealed off by the barrier.

Meanwhile, the UN's refugee agency said Tuesday it expected the number of refugees moving through Macedonia to double to around 3,000 per day, many of them women and children.

Deadly sea crossing

Symbolbild Flüchtlingsboot Küste Libyen
Image: Reuters/D. Zammit Lupi

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

More than 2,370 have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, already exceeding the death toll for the whole of 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The UN has called on Europe to "establish a human-rights based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy", as the bloc struggles to agree a response to the unprecedented numbers of refugees arriving -- from the thousands landing on Mediterranean shores to the hundreds risking their lives to climb onto trucks to travel from France to Britain.

"Let's not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working," said the UN's special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau. He called for "opening up the regular labor markets through smart visas" to be issued to migrants.

But his remarks came as Britain announced tough new measures against illegal migrant workers, warning that would imprison unpermitted workers caught in England and Wales.

jar/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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