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Germany suspends Dublin III transfers for Syrians

Germany has taken the extremely welcome step of suspending the transfer of Syrian asylum seekers under the Dublin III Regulation.

As long ago as November 2013 UNHCR called for countries not to return Syrian nationals to their first point of entry in the EU. As the war has worsened and more people have fled, the situation has continued to deteriorate both for the people fleeing and in the countries on the periphery of Europe, such as the Balkan states and Greece and Italy, that are struggling to provide adequate reception conditions.

Germany has already received 44,417 applications for asylum this year from Syria alone. The country anticipates that it will receive around 800,000 asylum applications this year which is around 20 times the number of applications the UK will receive, for all the increasingly rabid press coverage of Calais.

The Daily Express has cancelled the few column inches not customarily deployed in shrill xenophobia (usually reserved for its tireless investigation into the murder of Princess Diana and reader offers of commemorative china) and is now frothily delivering the kind of stories that read as though their authors had personally woken to find 700 asylum seekers in their back garden building a mosque with their patio furniture.

Image credit:  Gegodeju
Were the Princess of Hearts alive today she would doubtless be supporting the Express’s crusade to drive children seeking asylum into the sea. Image credit:
Gegodeju

The German decision appears to have been taken on 21 August and is likely to affect a significant number of people who would otherwise be returned to e.g. Italy. Germany had already decided to suspend the transfer of asylum seekers to Greece for a further year, following the decision in M.S.S v Belgium and Greece [2011] ECHR 108.

This is a significant statement of solidarity with the countries on the edge of Europe and the United Kingdom has been encouraged to make a similar one by the Refugee Council. However unlikely that may be, as the Home Office concentrates on installing barbed wire in Calais, the ongoing feasibility of the Dublin system remains in question. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz expressed sympathy on Sunday with the Balkan countries and said that the Dublin system simply does not work anymore. Channel 4’s Paraic O’Brien is reporting that Peter Sutherland, the UN Special Representative for International Migration, has said that the Dublin system is “dead”. It is difficult to disagree with either assessment.

Greg Ó Ceallaigh
Greg Ó Ceallaigh Greg is a barrister specialising in asylum, immigration and public law at Garden Court Chambers. He deals with many Dublin third country removals including to Italy.

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