After Taking a Million Refugees, Germany Curtails Family reunions from Greece

Αssociated Press

FILE -A Syria man, right, who lives in Cyprus, meets with his relatives after they arrived at a refugees camp at Kokkinotrimithia outside of the capital Nicosia, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

BERLIN - Germany is sharply limiting family reunions for refugees arriving from Greece, local media reported, concerned about a backlash after taking in a million people and said to be facing “limited capacity” for more.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has reduced the number of asylum-seeker family members allowed into the country from Greece to 70 a month, German news group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland reported.

There are some 64,000 refugees and migrants stuck in Greece with the suspension of a European Union swap deal with Turkey, which let human traffickers flood nearby Greek islands with people until getting a deal for six billion euros, visa-free travel for its citizens and faster-track entry into the bloc, all still on partial hold for now.

A group of local German newspapers said the information on curtailing family reunions for refugees from Greece - overrun after the EU closed its borders to refugees - was provided by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government following a request from the Left Party.

The Interior Ministry said the decrease in numbers had to do with “limited support and accommodation capacities,” as well as the “considerable logistical coordination effort by state and federal authorities.”

Left lawmaker Ulla Jelpke called that a “miserable excuse,” and accused the government of shirking its responsibilities under the EU’s Dublin regulation which says that separated refugee and asylum-seeking families are entitled to a legal reunion once an immediate relative arrives in a country covered by the Dublin rule.

“The Federal government is trampling all over EU law and child welfare,” Jelpke said, adding that the cap should be removed because there was a need for as many as 400 refugee family members per month to be reunited with their loved ones in Germany.