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Majority seek refugee protections in Germany

January 2, 2022

EU rules call for the nation where asylum-seekers first enter the bloc to process requests for protection. But most applications in Germany come from people other EU countries failed to register, a media report says.

An asylum-seeker has her fingerprints taken
One German politician said the new data 'drastically demonstrates the dysfunctionality' of the EU's asylum rulesImage: Armin Weigel/dpa/picture alliance

The majority of asylum applications in Germany last year were from people not registered at the European Union's external borders, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.

Citing figures from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). the paper said 53% of first-time applicants aged 14 and over were not listed on the Eurodac fingerprint database during the first 11 months of 2021.

The fingerprints of 74,837 applicants who met the criteria were compared with the EU database, which showed that 35,245 claimants had previously applied for refugee status, the paper reported.

In total, 172,370 claims for asylum, including children, were made in Germany from January to November.

Eurodac was set up in 2003 to handle the fingerprint identification of everyone who applies for asylum in any EU country, as many people arrive without paper identification documents.

Asylum should be requested on arrival

The BAMF data revealed that many refugees in Germany had not made their claim for asylum when they first set foot on EU soil — in countries like Greece, Italy, Poland or Lithuania — which sit at the bloc's land or sea borders.

Under the EU's Dublin III regulation, asylum applications must be registered in the arrival country, which is then responsible for processing the person's request for protection.

One of the principles of the regulation is to stop multiple applications for asylum in several EU states.

However, countries in southern and eastern Europe have complained they carry a heavier burden, when most asylum applicants would rather take refuge in wealthier countries in western and northern Europe.

The measure has also been labeled unworkable, as most refugees move between EU countries and asylum applicants aren't often returned to their arrival country.

As Germany doesn't lie on the EU's external border, under the Dublin rules the number of asylum claims should be much lower.

Germany receives more applications

Data from the EU's statistics agency Eurostat showed Germany's share of all asylum claims made in the EU was 28.4%, compared with 20% for France, 11% for Spain and 8% for Italy.

Alexander Throm, a spokesperson for the center-right bloc in the German parliament, the Bundestag, said the data "drastically demonstrates the dysfunctionality of the Dublin system."

He told Welt am Sonntag that the registration and return of asylum-seekers are fundamental precepts of the EU's asylum system.

He called on Germany's new coalition government to demand better compliance with the Dublin rules.

"To disproportionately relieve other EU states by redistribution despite the registration deficiencies, as the coalition agreement envisages, is the wrong signal," Throm said.

The German government's coalition agreement calls for a "forward-looking and realistic" migration policy and adds that "irregular migration" should be reduced.

mm/sms (AFP, KNA)