• Germany's news in English
 

Welcome: First of 5,000 Syrian refugees arrive

Published: 11 Sep 2013 16:02 GMT+02:00

A chartered flight from Lebanon brought 107 refugees to Hanover in Lower Saxony.

They were greeted by interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and Lower Saxony’s interior minister Boris Pistorius.

The refugees, including 40 children, will be taken to Göttingen. They will not have to go through normal asylum procedures but are being given resident and work permits immediately.

Germany has granted the exiles two-year residence permits and could extend them if the war continues.

Pistorius said Germany was "duty bound" to help and called for the country to take in more than the 5,000 it had pledged.

Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), said: "Germany's humanitarian assistance programme provides for up to 5,000 places for Syrian refugees, and as such is the biggest relocation programme currently in existence for the Syria crisis."

She said the German scheme was a "vital and potentially life-saving tool for helping particularly vulnerable refugees."

"These include women and girls at risk, people with serious medical conditions that cannot be treated in the host country, survivors of torture and others with special needs," she added.

The overwhelming majority of the two million Syrians who have fled their conflict-torn homeland are in neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, which along with the UNHCR have appealed for more international help to shoulder the burden.

"Their economies, their societies, their infrastructures are under extreme strain,” she said. “We've visited towns and villages which have more Syrian refugees than local residents. Therefore this programme that Germany has offered is setting an important example. We hope that more countries in Europe and around the world will come forward with similar schemes.”

With no sign of an end to the Syrian civil war, which broke out in 2011, UNHCR has appealed to rich countries to offer a haven for some 12,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.

Besides Germany, Austria has offered 500 places. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland have pledged more than 1,650 places together.

The United States has also told the UNHCR that it was willing to consider an unspecified number of cases, and talks are under way with Britain, Fleming said.

Fleming said it was crucial for all countries to share the burden by taking in Syrian asylum seekers who arrive under their own steam.

Last year, some 24,000 Syrians claimed asylum in Europe. Between January and July this year, another 20,776 claimed asylum, according to UNHCR data.

READ MORE: Germany welcomes Syria chemical weapons proposal

AFP/The Local/tsb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Watchdog escapes breast implant fine
A breast augmentation operation in progress. Photo: DPA

Watchdog escapes breast implant fine

A French appeals court on Thursday found German safety standards body the Technische Überwachungsverein (TÜV) had "fulfilled its obligations" in certifying breast implants that were later found to be faulty and sparked a worldwide scare. READ  

Govt 'breaking promises' with new CO2 deal
The RWE brown coal plant in Niederaussem. Photo: DPA

Govt 'breaking promises' with new CO2 deal

Germany's governing coalition came to a major new agreement on carbon emissions on Wednesday evening. But the reported deal has left environmentalists feeling betrayed. READ  

Thais send kidnapper to face Munich justice
A photo used by police to track alleged kidnapper Mario S. Photo: DPA

Thais send kidnapper to face Munich justice

Thai authorities will deliver a man to Germany later this week to stand trial on accusations of kidnapping the wife of a Bavarian banker to finance his lavish lifestyle abroad. READ  

Bayern boss fuels Schweini transfer talk
Photo: DPA

Bayern boss fuels Schweini transfer talk

Speculation that Bastian Schweinsteiger is about to make a big money move to Manchester United increased on Wednesday when Bayern Munich's director of sport Matthias Sammer admitted the star's future remains unclear. READ  

NSA spied on several German ministers: report
Photo: DPA

NSA spied on several German ministers: report

New documents released by WikiLeaks show that the United States did not just tap German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone but also eavesdropped on several ministers, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Wednesday. READ  

'Auschwitz bookkeeper' trial nears verdict
Oskar Groening, the 'bookkeeper of Auschwitz'. Photo: DPA

'Auschwitz bookkeeper' trial nears verdict

A former SS officer known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz" and a woman who survived the Nazi death camp delivered wrenching testimony in a courtroom on Wednesday as his historic trial neared a verdict. READ  

Assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
A photo of a Volkswagen assembly line, not related to the incident. Photo: DPA.

Assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen

A worker was setting up a robot at a Volkswagen factory when the machine grabbed him and pressed him against a metal slab, causing lethal injuries. READ  

Greece crisis
Greek offer 'no basis for discussion': Schäuble
Pro-EU Greeks demonstrate outside the Athens parliament on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Greek offer 'no basis for discussion': Schäuble

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Wednesday crisis-hit Greece was sending mixed signals in debt talks and called on its government to "clarify its position" before negotiations with creditors can resume. READ  

Weathermen issue snow alert in heatwave
Could this be July in North Rhine-Westphalia? Photo: DPA

Weathermen issue snow alert in heatwave

The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a weather warning for North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on Wednesday predicting 5 to 10 cm of snow and winds of up to 60 km/h. READ  

Analysis
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
Angela Merkel faces a battery of microphones and cameras at a eurozone summit in Brussels on June 22nd. Photo: DPA

How German media shaped the Greece crisis

It's often said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the one person who truly matters when it comes to how the eurozone deals with Greece. But how much freedom does 'Mutti' really have in the face of the public and the media? READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Culture
What's top of the charts in June
Gallery
Germany's most beautiful cycle routes
Business & Money
The business case for Britain in the EU
Rhineland
Why farmers are free to pong up the countryside
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,949
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd