Refugees’ Situation in Germany 2014

In 2013 127.023 applications for asylum were handed in Germany. Compared with 2012 this means an increase of 63,8 %. Compared to the early 1990s this amount is not really high. For example in 1992 during the war in former Yugoslavia there were 438.191 applications for asylum in Germany.

In 2013 about 1,2 million people immigrated to Germany. This shows that only about 10 % of all immigrants were asylum seekers. Most of the refugees who came to Germany in 2013 were from the Russian Federation (14.887), Syria (11.851) and Serbia (11.459), Afghanistan (7.735), Macedonia (6.208), Iran (4.424), Pakistan (4.101), Iraq (3.958), Somalia (3.786) and Eritrea (3.616).

About 81.000 decisions were made by the German authorities in 2013. About 25 % received a status of protection, either a status based on the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or subsidiary protection. 38,5 % were rejected and 36,7 % were not even reviewed with regard to content. The mayority of the latter were the Dublin cases in which Germany denied all responsibility because the refugees had already passed another European country.
In 2013 refugees in Germany had to wait an average of 7 months for the first decision. Refugees with better chances to receiving a positive decision even had to wait longer. Refugees from Iraq waited 9,5 months, refugees from Iran 13 months, refugees from Afghanistan 14 months, refugees from Pakistan and Somalia 15 months and refugees from Eritrea even 17 months (average).

In 2013 10.198 persons were deported from Germany to other countries. Germany decided to receive a contingent of 20.000 persons who had to leave Syria due to the war.

In Germany asylum-seekers have to live up to three months in big reception camps, then they are distributed to the whole country. They live in smaller camps or individual flats, depending on local or regional authorities. There is no general binding law that prescribes how to organise refugee accommodation.

Asylum-seekers in Germany are not included in the general code of social law but there is a specific law for asylum-seekers. Until 2012 this law reduced social support for asylum-seekers more than 20 % in comparison to the general code of social law for usual citizens in Germany. That is why the highest German federal court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, declared in July 2012 that the social support of this specific law for asylum-seekers is not in accordance with the German constitution. Hereafter the payments had to be increased.

The general refugee laws in Germany are still very restrictive. Refugees don’t receive a normal health insurance but can only receive medical treatment in acute situations. Refugees in Germany cannot travel in the country. Their movement is restricted to one federal state or even to one administrative district. Exceptions require the local authorities’ permission.

Access to the labour market is a very important issue. During the asylum application proceedings refugees are not allowed to work during the first 9 months. After that they are permitted to work but are confronted with restrictions. When still in the asylum application proceedings, they don`t have free access to the labour market even after 9 months. For each job offer the labour authority checks if there is any available German or any other EU-citizen permanently living in Germany. Only if not, the asylum-seeker can take the job. Finally, after being granted a positive status of protection, the refugees have free access to the labour market as German citizens.
Another important and problematic issue is the asylum-seekers’ lack of access to German language courses. During the asylum proceedings there is no funded access to those courses. There are only limited possibilities depending on locally offered or self-financed regional project courses. After being granted a positive status of protection the refugees have access to the so called integration courses including language courses and general orientation.
As a new development in Germany refugees begin to actively organise sustainable protest campaigns themselves. The readiness of people and organisations from the civil society to accompany and support newly arrived refugees is noticeably rising.