The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called on Germany to step up its protection for refugees and immigrants, particularly in cases of family reunification.
In a paper published on Wednesday, they highlighted a number of issues and made several recommendations.
“Germany is a role-model in global refugee protection and holds great credibility as a host country and as one of the most important donors of international aid. It should make use of this power in the face of global challenges in refugee protection in Europe and the world,” said Katharina Lumpp, head of UNHCR Germany, in a statement.
The UNHCR said Germany needs to step up refugee protection efforts through adherence to international conventions, its role in international politics, its influence on European asylum policy, and its role as a host country for resettlement and family reunification. The issue of pushback at the border must also be resolved.
“Pushbacks are a clear breach of international law. It’s the obligation of all EU states to ensure access to protection. More European states should take on responsibility for those seeking protection and not shift that responsibility on to third countries,” said Lumpp.
In terms of family reunifications, these have been slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. But asides from this, bureaucratic hurdles remain that means it’s difficult for refugees and other immigrants to be reunited with family. Germany must work on reducing red tape and facilitating quicker procedures.
“Integration cannot happen when refugee families have to stay separated for years and they have to fear for their loved ones. Long and complicated procedures are helping no one,” Lumpp said.
In January, the Germany Federal Foreign Office said that at German embassies in Pakistan, Serbia, Albania, and Morocco, people wanting to be reunited with family members in Germany can wait more than a year for an appointment. The same goes for Afghans who want to apply for a family reunification visa in Germany from India.
Moreover, a parliamentary inquiry in January revealed that Germany last year granted far fewer family reunifications for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection than would have been possible by legal means.
Germany is the fourth most popular place for Albanian’s to request asylum. Between January 2019 and August 2020, more than 30,500 applied for asylum in the EU. While many are refused, several hundred are granted asylum. In the UK in 2019, some 279 Albanian nationals received refugee status. Exit spoke with a source within the Home Office who confirmed that common reasons for protection being granted include political persecution, LGBTIQ individuals who fear for their safety, and in some cases, blood feuds.