German home secretary Horst Seehofer has prohibited two German federal states, Thuringia and Berlin, to rescue migrants from Greek refugee camps. Thuringia planned to host 500 refugees until 2020, Berlin 300 refugees. Both federal states refer to a law allowing federal state governments to grant temporary residence permits to foreign people being in humanitarian emergency situations. The German federal government however keeps the final decision to ensure uniform nationwide approaches. Seehofer rejected Thuringia’s and Berlin's plans and argued that any solution concerning the refugee crisis has to be developed and executed by the European Union. He said: "No country in the world can manage migration alone."
Now both states are considering an alliance to take actions against the German federal government’s rejection to temporarily accommodate refugees from Greek refugee camps. The current debate may also be influenced by party policy with regard to federal elections coming up in less than a year: Both Berlin and Thuringia are governed by left-wing coalitions. For this reason, it remains to be seen how North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet, who is a member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), positions himself He called for a short-term conference between the German federal government and federal state governments to discuss accommodating more refugees from the overcrowded Greek camps after he witnessed the imminent humanitarian disaster.
Meanwhile, Seehofer is also confronted with massive opposition coming from german left-wing parties as well as from the churches and NGO´s. Liza Pflaum of the NGO @seebrueckeoffiziell criticizes him for his decision: “The situation in camps like Moria is still horrible.” Berlin and Thuringia have to sue against the repeated refusal of humanitarian aid and thus “enforce the right to host refugees”.
About the authors:
Heike is from Germany and works as a teacher for social work at a university. There she is conducting research on social inequality and educational disadvantage. It is therefore a matter of personal concern to her to work for social justice and the realisation of human rights. She is a member of Europe Must Act – Germany.
Anna studies social work in Münster. For a long time, she didn't know how to support people with escape experience. Through her sister Franziska, she became involved with Europe Must Act and is now part of the social media team for Europe Must Act – Germany.