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Germany 'slowing illegal migration flow'

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-15 09:54

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser speaks during a session of the lower house of German parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, April 12, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Germany's Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has reported success in reducing unauthorized migration to the country.

Faeser, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left Social Democrats, stated progress had been made after German authorities stepped up border checks following resolutions passed by the government in October.

"Asylum applications are currently a fifth lower than in the same period last year. Our border checks have detained 708 smugglers since October and prevented 17,600 unauthorized entries," Faeser said in an interview with the Funke media group.

Between January and March this year, a total of 71,061 individuals sought asylum in Germany, as reported by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. This number reflects a decrease of 9,917 applications, marking a notable 19.2 percent decline compared to the same period in 2023, the office said.

The government took action with the new measures in reaction to a surge of migrants and refugees entering the country from neighboring nations, noted Deutsche Welle news.

The government has stated temporary border controls along the Polish, Czech, and Swiss borders will continue until mid-June. Such controls have been enforced at the Austrian border for several years.

Plans are being discussed to extend the measures to all borders leading up to and during the Euro2024 soccer championship, which starts in June, reported the DPA news agency.

Additional measures have also involved expediting the deportation process for unsuccessful asylum applicants.

On Friday, the Bundestag, Germany's Parliament, approved a measure to offer social benefits to asylum seekers and migrants in the form of a payment card, rather than cash.

Supporters of the new regulation argued that it would deter migrants from using benefits to pay smugglers or from sending benefit money back to relatives in their home nations. Critics argued that Germany's social benefits were a factor in attracting migrants to the country.

"We have legislated for faster asylum procedures," Faeser said. "Our comprehensive legislative package for more and quicker deportations is in force."

With the payment card instead of cash, she said the country is helping refugees, "but at the same time preventing cash from going to people smugglers".

Faeser also commended the approval of the European Union's asylum reform, a process that faced prolonged delays spanning years because of disagreements among member states. However, the reform was successfully ratified by the European Parliament last week.

The government has "now clearly drawn this line in European and national law" and has "achieved more in the last few months than the (European) Union has achieved in 16 years-and we have done so with humanitarian responsibility and without resentment", she said.

"On Monday, I will visit the EU's external border between Bulgaria and Turkiye, to see how the massively increased protection of external borders and asylum procedures that comply with human rights are now being implemented as quickly as possible," Faeser added.

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