German authorities rejected almost all church asylum cases in 2019

German authorities have turned down most of the church asylum cases in 2019, according to German news agency DW. Over the first four months of 2019, only two cases have been accepted.

Churches in Germany can grant protection to rejected asylum seekers facing difficult situations and present a request to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) for review. These asylum seekers are usually granted access by the church congregation to live on their premises, which provides them protection from police.

One such example is Taara, a young mother from Afghanistan, who told her story to the Christian Science Monitor. She said her family fled the Taliban in search of safety in Europe. After sleeping in the woods, going without food for days, suffering tear gas in camps, they have now received sanctuary from a German church. For the past year, they have been living on the church grounds.

“I can imagine telling these stories to our grandchildren,” her husband said. “They won’t believe it. Sometimes we ourselves don’t believe it. . . . And now we’re here. Thank God.”

Such spaces are in high demand in Germany. A year ago, churches were sheltering 543 people, Today, the number has jumped to 855. In fact, the commissioner for migration, asylum, and human rights for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany told the Christian Science Monitor that the demand for sanctuary spaces in Germany outstrips supply by roughly 20 times.

Once accepted, churches should then submit a hardship dossier detailing reasons for reconsidering each asylum seeker’s case. The dossier will be evaluated by the BAMF. After re-examination, if the migration office does not grant asylum protection, the asylum seeker must leave the church premises.

In 2015-16, the BAMF recognised 80 per cent of the cases presented by the churches. This year, only two cases were accepted.

TMP – 24/06/2019

Photo credit: Leonid Andronov/ Shutterstock

Photo caption: Dom St. Peter, the Cathedral of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany

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