Pro-migration NGOs on Wednesday demanded the federal government transport to Germany around 25,000 migrants currently living in Italy and Greece.
Though the nation took in more than a million migrants in 2015 and 2016, Pro Asyl and Doctors Without Borders are among voices arguing that Germany must do more to meet its commitments under the European Union’s (EU) ‘relocation’ programme, reports L’Orient-Le Jour.
Under the plan, which aims to provide relief to Greece and Italy and to spread migrants more evenly across the bloc, Berlin has so far only received 2,042 out of the 25,500 it pledged to welcome by September this year.
Günter Burkhardt, head of pro-mass migration group Pro Asyl, said “there are empty places in reception centres, we have planes, but there is a lack of political will” to relocate migrants living in Greece and Italy.
It is “ridiculous that Germany, at the centre of Europe, with its economic prowess, is unable to accept 27,500 people,” he added.
The demands were echoed by the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières), which complained that migrants in Greece are living in inhumane conditions.
“The German government and other EU countries must meet their promises and quickly provide places to resettle migrants from Italy and Greece,” said Florian Westphal, who leads the German branch of the international NGO.
Backed by Pro Asyl, a petition with some 50,000 signatures calling for migrants stuck in Greece to be flown to Germany is to be handed over to the interior ministry.
Renate Vestner-Heise, who initiated the petition, said: “Some of these refugees in Greece have been waiting for a long time to be reunited with their families in Germany.”
The relocation agreement approves migrants from countries where the average rate of approval for asylum in the EU is above 75 per cent to be transported from Italy and Greece to other European nations. Along with Syrian nationals, migrants from Burundi, Eritrea, the Maldives, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen are also eligible for relocation.
Pro Asyl has demanded Germany open up legal routes for people from Iraq and Afghanistan to migrate to Germany, despite the fact the two countries are safe enough that international organisations are helping repatriate hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) last year assisted in the return of almost half a million Afghan migrants from Pakistan, while the UN-backed International Organisation for Migration reported last month that one and a half million displaced Iraqis have been able to go home.