German lawmakers have approved new measures to tackle Europe’s refugee crisis.
The list of countries Germany deems “safe” will be widened to include Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro, whose citizens will generally have no chance of being granted asylum.
That will allow Germany to focus on refugees fleeing war zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germany’s parliament that working with Turkey is key to solving the crisis, including providing humanitarian aid, helping to secure borders and combating people trafficking.
“Most war refugees who come to Europe travel via Turkey. We won’t be able to order and stem the refugee movement without working together with Turkey,” Merkel said.
Asylum seekers will have to stay longer in reception centres while their requests are processed:from three months to six months.
During this period, the are generally entitled to lower benefits. In addition, the new legislation provides for a switch from cash benefits to payments in kind “as far as possible” for those waiting in reception centres.
Human rights groups Amnesty International and Pro Asyl criticised the approved measures, saying the new measures put too much emphasis on deterrence and exclusion.