In a move that will affect tens of thousands, Germany will now allow Syrian refugees to stay and apply for asylum instead of deporting them back to their country of arrival.
The Washington Post reports the country has decided to suspend a European Union rule, called the the Dublin Regulation, which says refugees are supposed to stay in the first European country of arrival until their asylum claims are processed. This rule places an unequal burden on Southern European countries like Greece and Italy, which are amongst the easiest to reach by boat from across the Mediterranean. Both Italy and Greece have faced unprecedented levels of migrant inflow this past year.
Under the new policy, even if the refugees first arrive in Greece or Italy but travel northwards to Germany, they will not be deported back to their first country of contact.
Germany appears to be the only EU country to suspend the Dublin Regulation so far.“This is only the one that we are aware of among the member states at this moment," the European Commission said.
German chancellor Angela Merkel recently called the migrant crisis a bigger challenge for the EU than the Greek debt. The new rule comes at a time when Germany is witnessing a surge in refugee shelter attacks.
This decision it seems was well received by the Syrian community, as evidenced by the outpouring of love notes and messages for Merkel on social media.