Asylum laws in Germany are especially strict; people can only ask for asylum when they have come directly to Germany. If asylum seekers have fled from a country that is on Germany’s list of ‘safe countries’, they will be sent back to that country straightaway.Due to the Dublin Regulation (previously known as the Dublin Convention signed in 1990), EU countries have the right to send asylum seekers back to the first ‘safe country’ they have stepped foot it.
Germany dealt with a big influx of asylum seekers after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The end of the Cold War and the new open borders resulted in huge numbers of asylum seekers. To control the arrival of thousands of refugees, Germany passed a set of strict asylum laws in 1993.
Especially the need to directly arrive in Germany without passing a third safe country makes that very few people will get asylum. Napuli for instance made a long trip from Sudan to Germany by foot, she unavoidably passed several ‘safe third countries’ before arriving in Germany. The Dublin Regulation has been criticized for this, as it makes the border nations of the EU (where the majority of the asylum seekers start their quest for asylum in the EU) responsible for handling the asylum applications.
When refugees apply for asylum in Germany, they will hear within three days whether their case will be handled further or if they will be sent back to either the country they fled from or the safe third country they entered. Asylum seekers who appeal against the decision and those who are waiting to hear whether or not they get a permission to stay, will be housed in special asylum seeker compounds throughout Germany. People are not allowed to leave this place, the so-called ‘Residenzplficht’, or the obligation to stay. The ‘Lagerplficht’ means that they have to live in that specific place.
People often wait for years to hear what their destiny will be. The possibility of being sent back is always looming. The asylum seekers who organized themselves and walked from the south of Germany to Berlin, protested against the strict and – as they call it – inhumane German asylum laws. By leaving their compounds throughout Germany, they broke laws and are now illegal in this country. Some of them already got arrested and were sent back, others are afraid it might happen to them any day. Their hope that Germany will loosen up the regulations is getting slimmer. As one of the asylum seekers – he wanted to stay anonymous – said: “We have been here since October last year. People know we are living here, the government knows and still nothing has changed.”
On Monday June 17th, there was a stabbing in the refugee camp on Oranienplatz. According to the German media, a Turkish man walked past the camp and felt provoked by the refugees. He consequently stabbed a refugee in the chest with a knife. The refugee had to go to hospital for treatment, be seems to be doing ok. This incident let to further protests – that night 250 men police had to come to Oranienplatz to restore peace and stability in the camp.