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UN applauds Germany's help to refugees

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DPA
13:39 CEST+02:00
UNHCR Commissioner Antonio Guterres is lauding Germany's role in accommodating the influx of refugees in Europe, while pointing at the imbalance of effort within the EU. The federal government has pledged to do more.

"Where people are in need, we will help, including through the additional intake of refugees," she said on Monday at a speech to the parliament regarding the delivery of weapons to Northern Iraq. 

With recent conflicts, a rise in refugees has been inevitable. The Syrian conflict has caused the "largest humanitarian emergency of our time" Guterres told Die Welt. This conflict alone has forced more than three million Syrians to flee their country.

Germany has taken in 52,000 of those since the war broke out and approximately 20,000 people escaping Isis have sought asylum in Germany.

"Germany has played a leading role in refugee protection and serves as a positive example for other European states to follow." Guterres told the paper.

The interior ministers of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Lower Saxony fear that the steep rise in immigration is overburdening the country. Germany takes on an average of 20,000 asylum seekers per year but other EU countries are not matching the effort.

Interior minister of NRW Ralf Jäger said that tent accommodation may be the only solution left in Germany for the rapid rise of asylum-seekers.

"We should try as quickly as possible to use empty barracks or hospitals," the SPD politician said.

Bavaria's interior minister Joachim Herrmann also expresses his discontent and stresses Germany does not have the capacity for so many refugees.  

"Italy simply sits refugees on a train to Germany without registration or any asylum procedure," Herrmann told the paper.  

Guterres said that the UNHCR recognizes that Italy is not sharing the burden and hasn't in previous years.  Last year 60,000 refugees entered Italy but only 28,000 stayed. He added that one of the main problems is "the very different asylum practices of the EU member states."

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Interior minister Thomas de Maizière is to meet with Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday to discuss these discrepancies. He already met with his French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, in Berlin on Saturday about illegal immigration to the EU which Germany and France suffer from the most. They reaffirmed that to address the current refugee situation, all member states have to comply with their obligations to accept refugees under the applicable EU law. The ministers announced  they will soon be proposing ways to improve the situation to the EU Commission.

The German government is due to make changes in its asylum seeking process  since the Constitutional Court  affirmed last year that not enough is being done to help people fleeing persecution. Asylum seekers who have been in Germany for more than 18 months and who are unable to return to their home countries will be transferred into the general social security system. They will receive benefits equal to the normal levels of social help after 15 months, rather than waiting four years, as was previously the case.

The government would also spend more than €200 million over a number of years to help towns and cities that have attracted unusually large numbers of EU migrants with housing and other expenses.  

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