Germany has agreed to take in 10,000 more Syrian refugees, the interior ministers at both federal and regional levels agreed yesterday.
“Germany stands by its humanitarian responsibility. It is therefore right that we, together, help even more,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in the statement.
Europe’s top economy had already agreed last year to take 10,000 Syrian refugees, of which around 6,000 are already in the country, the statement said.
The majority of refugees have members of their families residing in Germany.
Arriving refugees are granted a residency permit for two years which allows them to work in contrast to asylum seekers.
German human rights organisation Pro Asyl called on the government headed by Angela Merkel to do more by receiving “nearly 80,000 family members of Syrians living in Germany”. The organisation condemned “the closed border policy in Europe which forces Syrian refugees to ride fragile boats” citing numerous incidents of boats of migrants sinking in the Mediterranean.
An official from the German office of Amnesty International said before the announcement was confirmed that it “is only a small step”. She said “The vast majority of refugees continue to reach Germany via dangerous ways”.
In December the organisation accused Europe of establishing “fortresses” around its borders to protect itself from Syrian refugees and pointed out that the European Union opened its doors to 12,000 Syrian refugees which represent only 0.5 per cent out of 2.3 million people who have fled the country.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011, nearly 40,000 Syrians arrived in Germany; 32,000 applied for asylum.