Asylum seekers and corona border closure: Asylum in viral times

According to a media report, the Federal Ministry of the Interior emphasizes that nothing has changed in the asylum procedure. The left contradicts.

Asylum seekers and corona border closure: Asylum in viral times
German federal police officers control incoming traffic from Switzerland | Photo: Patrick Seeger / dpa

The Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) denies a report by Focus that the entry restrictions to Germany in connection with the corona pandemic have now been extended to asylum seekers. ” There has been no change to the asylum procedure to date,” emphasized a spokeswoman for the ministry when asked by TEH. At the government press conference, a spokesman for the ministry also emphasized that there was no decree and no instruction to the federal police to generally reject asylum seekers at the border.

Prior to this, Focus, citing government and coalition circles, reported that asylum seekers should expect “to be turned away at the federal border from now on”. So far, they were exempt from the entry restrictions and were allowed to enter the country.

The Parliamentary State Secretaries of the BMI had already informed the Interior Committee of a corresponding decree on Monday. The magazine quoted the chair of the committee, Andrea Lindholz (CSU), as saying that rejections at the border were “required for reasons of health protection and legally permissible”.


The left-wing politician Ulla Jelpke contradicted the BMI’s presentation: “I can confirm that representatives of the Federal Ministry of the Interior reported in a conference call with the Interior Committee on Monday that the Federal Police had been instructed to reject asylum seekers at the EU’s internal borders,” she said to the TEH.

Sharp criticism from the left and the Greens

The refusal of asylum seekers on the grounds that “this is a general threat to public health” is illegal in their view, Jelpke said. “”The fundamental right to asylum cannot simply be overridden in times of the corona pandemic.””

The Green politician Luise Amtsberg also criticized such a decision. There are “ample opportunities to minimize the risk of infection without completely excluding the possibility of applying for asylum,” Amtsberg told the TEH. For example, those seeking protection at the border could be quarantined and tested for a corona infection before being distributed to the countries. “The Federal Government must make it transparent why, in their view, these measures are not sufficient.”

A decree as the Focus describes it “has not yet been sent to the members of the interior committee, to my knowledge,” said Lars Castellucci, migration policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the TEH. “But we all just have to live with restrictions on our fundamental rights, and the asylum system will certainly not remain unaffected.”

At the moment, the most important thing for improving the situation of asylum seekers is the joint action of several countries to relieve Greece. “This has to be implemented immediately and can help to get the European asylum system going again when the corona crisis is over,” said Castellucci.

Comprehensive tests

The BMI stated that asylum-seekers would be examined across the board during the “medical examination, which was carried out anyway,” to determine whether there were any signs of a corona infection and whether they were being tested for the lung disease Covid-19.

The spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior said that the federal and state governments had “decided that the distribution of asylum seekers can continue if the health examination and corona test were carried out at the beginning of the asylum process or if a 14-day separation without illness of the asylum seeker was proven.” The Federal Office for migration and refugees (Bamf) has also changed his previous procedure: In the coming weeks, asylum applications should primarily be made in writing.

Pro-asylum sharply criticized border closures for refugees on Friday and described them as a “scandal”. Gunter Burkhardt, managing director of the organization, said that “one of the most elementary human rights would be overridden”. “The Geneva Refugee Convention and the ban on deportation under international law also apply in times of crisis and must not simply be suspended.”


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