German Interior Minister warns refugees who take Syria holidays

20.08.2019

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced a tough response to Syrian refugees who leave Germany for holidays in their home country.

"If somebody, a Syrian refugee, regularly takes holidays in Syria, he cannot honestly claim to be persecuted in Syria," Seehofer told Bild am Sonntag. "We would have to strip him of his refugee status," he added.

As soon as German officials learn of such trips, they will launch a probe into the migrants' refugee status, Seehofer said. The Bavarian conservative did not say how many people would be affected by this policy.

German officials are currently unable to deport people to Syria as the Middle Eastern country is considered unsafe. The ban is set to expire at the end of 2019, although there is an option to prolong it.

Talking to the Sunday edition of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, Seehofer said German authorities were closely monitoring the situation in Syria. "When the conditions allow, we will conduct deportations," he said.

Seehofer has repeatedly clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel over her refugee policy, which he believes is too liberal.

Some 780,000 Syrians have migrated to Germany in recent years, fleeing the civil war, which started in 2011. The Syrian regime, led by President Bashar Assad, now controls most of Syria. The fighting and airstrikes continue in the nation's northwest, mostly in the Idlib province, which is still controlled by the rebels. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in the conflict. (KNA, AFP, dpa)

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