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January 18, 2022



Most Iraqi refugees first brought to the Czech Republic have received church asylum in Germany

11.8.2016 15:02
A group of Iraqi Christian refugees decided on 2 April to travel to Essen, Germany from the Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Czech Television)
A group of Iraqi Christian refugees decided on 2 April to travel to Essen, Germany from the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Czech Television)

The group of Iraqi citizens who first came to the Czech Republic thanks to a special program run by the Generation 21 Foundation will ultimately remain in Germany. Most of the asylum-seekers from the 25-member group have received church asylum in the Saxon community of Herrnhut.

Church asylum is, according to statistics, practically a guarantee that an asylum-seeker will be able to remain in Germany. Just three of the Iraqis who did not receive church asylum and whom Saxon Police previously wanted returned to the Czech Republic might end up being sent back.

Most of the Iraqis left the Czech Republic for Germany earlier this year, probably never to return. The vast majority of asylum-seekers who receive church asylum in Germany are subsequently granted leave to remain in the country, according to statistics from the organization Asyl in der Kirche, which oversees groups providing church asylum.

German Police already attempted to return three of the Iraqis to the Czech Republic at the end of July. They failed to do so, however, because they could not figure out where they were.

The group of 25 Iraqi Christians left the Czech Republic for Germany at the beginning of April. Five of them have family already in Germany and were permitted to stay for that reason.

The German authorities then decided the remaining 20 Iraqis should be returned to the Czech Republic, as that country should bresponsible for processing their asylum requests. However, 17 of the Iraqis were then granted church asylum on 17 July by the Moravian Church in the Saxon municipality of Herrnhut.

Last year, of 332 church asylum applications filed (representing 531 individuals) and processes completed last year, 323 (representing 513 individuals) were successful from the perspective of the religious societies, in that the asylum-seekers will be able to remain in Germany at least temporarily. Church asylum expires after six months and then, according to the Dublin Regulations, Germany will be the country automatically responsible for handling the asylum proceedings.

The fact that church asylum is regularly used for such tactical reasons was confirmed by Germany's Federal Authority for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). "That is the advantage of church asylum, one goes into it to gain time," said Edith Avram, spokesperson for the authority.

"Nobody will come and use force to attempt to drag people out of a church sanctuary," Avaram said, adding that BAMF is now once again reviewing the requests filed by the group of Iraqi Christians for asylum in Germany. When asked about the three Iraqis who were not awarded church asylum, Avram said police still do not know where they are.

The spokesperson said that if police were to find the trio during the next six months, they will return them to the Czech Republic. The Moravian Church des not want to comment.

The church considers protecting the asylum-seekers to be the main thing, as they were concerned that the Czech Republic would send them back to Iraq. The April departure of the Iraqis for Germany had serious repercussions for the entire project of relocating asylum-seekers from war-torn regions into the Czech Republic.

The program for relocating Christian asylum-seekers was first suspended temporarily, and then the Government decided it will not continue at all. The foundation ultimately brought 89 refugees to the Czech Republic instead of the originally-planned 153.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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