The German government has significantly cut back on family reunions for refugees arriving from Greece, local media reported. Germany has taken in over a million people and is facing "limited capacity."
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has reduced the number of asylum-seeker family members allowed into the country from Greece to 70 a month, German news group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland reported on Friday.
The group of local papers said the information was provided by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government following a request from the Left Party. In its response, the Interior Ministry said the decrease in numbers had to do with "limited support and accommodation capacities," as well as the "considerable logistical coordination effort by state and federal authorities."
Left lawmaker Ulla Jelpke described the explanation as a "miserable excuse," and accused the government of shirking its responsibilities under the EU's Dublin regulation. The law stipulates that separated refugee and asylum-seeking families are entitled to legal reunion once an immediate relative arrives in a country covered by the Dublin rule.
"The federal government is trampling all over EU law and child welfare," Jelpke said, adding that the cap should be removed because there was a need for as many as 400 refugee family members per month to be reunited with their loved ones in Germany.
Overstretched asylum system
The European Union took in some 1.6 million refugees and migrants – most of them from Syria – between 2014 and 2016. The majority arrived in Germany via frontline states like Italy and Greece. But the scale of the influx prompted many countries to introduce extra controls and to close their borders, blocking the so-called Balkan route and leaving tens of thousands of people stranded in Greece's refugee camps.
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