Germany rescues asylum seeker refugees from Greece


Germany receives more asylum seekers than any other European country, despite tight border controls and a drop in irregular arrivals due to coronavirus restrictions.

These are not only people coming from conflict zones or seeking protection directly from countries outside the EU – the past few years have seen an increase in so-called secondary migration from other European member states.


German police say migrants travelling from Greece are being held at German airports. Last year, authorities recorded a total of 9,581 irregular arrivals at German airports, according to media organization Funke Mediengruppe.

That number is around 12 times as high as the figure for 2020 and more than ten times as many as in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing figures from the German Joint Analysis and Strategy Center on Illegal Migration (Gasim), Funke Mediengruppe reports that more than 80% of those arriving in Germany from Greece are Afghan nationals. 

Zaki tried six times to get to Germany from Greece. His latest attempt was at least partially successful, and he is now somewhere in the Balkans | 

In 2021, secondary migration from Greece was considered to have taken on a ‘new dimension’, according to Gasim. This is a reference to the fact that, in most cases, those arriving in Germany have already received international protection status in Greece and are making a second asylum claim in Germany.

Under European law, they are allowed to travel within Europe but are not permitted to stay in Germany or any other EU country for more than 90 days before going back to Greece. Submitting another asylum request is also not generally permitted.


Germany’s migration and asylum office, BAMF, is reported to have put on hold more than 40,000 applications from people who have already been granted protection in Greece, according to Funke Mediengruppe.

European governments, including Germany, intend to prevent secondary movement and eliminate what the Council of the EU calls ‘pull factors’. But the goal of a common asylum system has not been achieved – conditions and treatment of asylum seekers remain unequal, and there are significant differences in recognition rates across the bloc.

In Greece, asylum seekers who are granted protection lose their right to receive assistance from the state and many are left homeless and without support. German courts have ruled in a few instances that migrants could not be sent back to Greece because they would suffer ‘inhumane and degrading treatment.’ 

Others have been returned because they faced no risk of poverty and had no right to remain lawfully in Germany.

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