Just 9,000 refugees granted reunification with families in Germany

German politicians have come under pressure to lower the number of refugees settling there

A girl takes part in a protest of refugees outside the Asylum Service in Athens on September 19, 2017 , to call for immediate reunifications with their families in Germany.
Refugees , living in different camps  around Athens demanded to travel at the legally provided deadline of six month. Germany has limited the families reunifications to 70  per month.  / AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
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Germany has welcomed almost 9,000 relatives of refugees to the country since August 2018 as part of a family reunification programme.

The permit system applies to those with subsidiary status in Germany, and allows adults to bring their children and spouses. Minors already living in Germany may apply for their parents to join them.

It had been temporarily suspended in March 2016 when the refugee crisis was at its height in Europe in an effort to stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. In  August, Angela Merkel’s CDU party negotiated with the SDP to reinstate the permit system.

However, the number of permits to be issued to family members since the law change last year has been limited at 1,000 and the UN has called the process too complex and too slow.

"Many of those affected have been separated from their family members for years," UNHCR German representative Dominik Bartsch said in September.

In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel created an open-door polices for migrants fleeing to Germany. Almost 1.2 million people applied for asylum in Germany during the height of the migrant crisis, increasing the refugee population in Germany by 45 per cent, with substantive decisions made on over half a million asylum cases.

Of those, 1.8 million people were on the register awaiting decisions on their asylum status at the end of 2018.

The World Bank puts the number of refugees currently in Germany at just over one million.