Skip to navigation

Skip to main content


November 1996, Volume 3, Number 11

Germany Returns Bosnians

Bosnians. Under an August 1996 agreement between the 16 German states and the Interior Ministry in Bonn, a three-phase repatriation program began October 1, 1996 for the 320,000 Bosnians refugees in Germany. Criminals, single people and childless couples are to leave Germany by March 1997.

Some predict that the expulsion orders will push Bosnians underground in Germany, as many try to stay without legal residence papers.

Bavaria, Thuringia, Baden-Wurttemberg and Berlin have announced plans to remove the Bosnians by force if necessary.

On October 9, 1996, Bavaria forcibly expelled a 29-year old Bosnian who had been convicted of sexual offenses. He had applied for amnesty in January 1996; the application had been rejected.

The Chicago Tribune profiled a Serb-Croat woman in Berlin who was raped and beaten by Muslims as she tried to escape from Bosnia and who was the first of 615 Bosnians in a former East Berlin workers' hostel to receive a notice to leave Germany.

The woman does not want to return and reportedly is considering seeking political asylum in the Netherlands. But European Union rules make the first EU country's decision on an asylum applicant binding on all other members.

Berlin has nearly 30,000 Bosnian refugees. Berlin's interior minister said that Berlin will not send home rape victims and others traumatized by the war until after their medical treatment is completed, but that a majority of the Bosnian refugees should be returned by the end of 1999. The interior minister estimates that caring for the Bosnians costs Berlin between $460 million and $525 million a year.

On October 10, 1996, Germany and what remains of Yugoslavia signed an agreement to repatriate over the next three years 135,000 persons whose applications for asylum in Germany were rejected. Many are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. The Yugoslav interior minister acknowledged that the return of this many people will create difficulties and hoped that the international community would help with resettlement costs, since Yugoslavia did not demand financial assistance from Germany as a condition for taking back its citizens.

German interior minister Kanther said that the treaty, which is effective December 1, signals Germany's determination not to allow individuals without legitimate claims to political asylum to remain in the country for extended periods. The accord provides for the return within three years of all refugees from the former Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) who entered Germany before the October 10 signing.

Asylum Seekers. The number of foreigners seeking asylum in Germany was 10,742 in September, 1996, compared with 9,548 in August. Between January and September, some 86,643 people applied for asylum in Germany, a drop of six percent from 1995 levels. Of the asylum applications adjudicated, 7.5 percent the applicants were granted asylum in Germany.

After 19 months of refuge in a church in Nuremberg, a Turkish family voluntarily returned to Turkey. About 150 foreigners, including 50 in Bavaria, have taken "refuge" in churches.

Under "Altfallregelungen"--old cases rules--families in Germany six or more years who can support themselves can continue living in Germany.

The number of Aussiedler--ethnic Germans moving from the ex-USSR to Germany--fell from 151,000 in the first nine months of 1995 to 129,300 in the first nine months of 1996.

The German Sports Federation has pledged to reduce the number of requests it makes to have foreigners naturalized so that they can play on German teams. The current number of 50 per year is to be reduced to five.

"Official urges right to stay for former immigrant workers," Agence France Presse, November 1, 1996. Ray Moseley, "Savaged Bosnia Refugees Afraid to go Home; Germany Plans to Eject Thousands," Chicago Tribune, October 20, 1996. "More Asylum Seekers in Germany," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 14, 1996. "Germany and Yugoslavia Sign Treaty of Return of Refugees, Bavaria Expels Bosnian," This Week in Germany, October 11, 1996. Alan Cowell, "Bavaria Expels Bosnian War Refugees," New York Times, October 10, 1996.