Germany downgrades asylum rights for Syrians: Report
AFP, , Friday 6 Nov 2015

Germany has scaled back its refugee policy for Syrians, the largest group of asylum seekers, including eliminating their right to have their families join them in the country, a newspaper reported Friday.

As Europe's top economy prepares for the arrival of around one million asylum seekers this year, Germany has now downgraded the standard of legal protection for Syrians, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported.

The new measures mean that Syrian refugees will only receive a residence permit for one year and can no longer claim a right of their families to move to Germany.

"The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has been ordered to only grant secondary protection for refugees from Syria's civil war," the FAZ quoted an interior ministry document as saying.

The ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Germany has to date maintained an open-door policy for Syrians escaping their country's bloodshed, giving them "primary protection" -- the highest status for refugees.

Among other benefits, it includes a three-year residence permit and family reunification.

In the face of infighting in her left-right "grand coalition" government, Chancellor Angela Merkel held crisis talks with party leaders Thursday in which they agreed on a raft of measures to bring more order to the record influx.

Among the steps announced at a joint press conference were plans to speed up repatriations of rejected asylum seekers from new central hubs.

Merkel and her partners did not speak about a change in policy for Syrians in particular.

The FAZ cited official figures showing that Germany had received 55,600 asylum applications from Syrian citizens in August. More than 38,600 were accepted, with only 53 receiving "secondary protection".

This lesser category had until now amounted to a legal grey zone for people whose status as refugees or asylum seekers had not yet been recognised.