News 24 Feb 14

More Macedonians Seek Asylum in Germany

The number of Macedonians applying for asylum in Germany has increased fivefold in the past three years, according to German migration services data.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
 

The German Federal Service on Migration and Refugees said that 9,420 people from Macedonia lodged asylum applications in Germany in 2013, Deutsche Welle reported.

The figure represents a sharp increase from 2012, when almost 6,900 Macedonians sought asylum in Germany, and from 2011, when there were 1,750 applicants from the Balkan state.

The numbers have risen even though only 0.3 percent of applicants have been accepted.

Since the EU abolished visa requirements for some countries in 2009 and 2010, the number of asylum-seekers from Macedonia and Serbia, but also from Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Montenegro, has increased sharply.

While the applications are overwhelmingly rejected by EU countries, applicants who originate from poverty-stricken countries continue to arrive, mostly hoping to benefit from free accommodation, food and medical care during the asylum procedure that in some cases lasts several months.

Impoverished people from the Balkans are also attracted by the cash payments that some western European countries provide during that period and by the opportunity to work on the black market and save some money to take home after their claim is rejected.

“While waiting for the asylum refusal, a family of five, with three children, monthly receives 1,100 euro, paid accommodation, heating and water bills,” Cristoph Sander from the German Federal Migration and Refugees Service told Deutsche Welle.

“Do not get me wrong, but I have to say that many in Germany who are regularly employed do not have this,” Sander said.

The EU has told Balkan countries to curb the outflow of people seeking asylum and adopted mechanisms that make it easier to temporarily suspens the visa-free regime for these countries.

But some NGOs like the Roma rights campaign group Chachipe and the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights have alleged that Macedonia discriminates against Roma people through its attempts to prevent them from travelling to wealthy EU countries.

Cases of confiscated passports have been mentioned as the most frequent form of breaching their right to free movement.

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