Europe

Migrant crisis: Bavaria asylum claimants told where to live

Migrants follow the rights education lessons for refugees and asylum seekers in Munich Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bavarian authorities want refugees to integrate into society and learn the German language

Migrants in the German state of Bavaria will no longer be able to choose where to live, as instead they will be told which town will become their new home.

The new ruling applies to anyone whose application for asylum has been accepted in Bavaria, but who is still dependent on the state for housing.

Once the claimants have found a job and can support themselves financially, they are then free to move.

The aim is to help refugees integrate into German society.

Authorities want to encourage new arrivals to learn the German language, rather than cluster together in areas with people from the same country of origin.

"With the [ruling] we are guaranteeing that migrants in Bavaria live with us, not alongside us. This way we are preventing parallel societies forming, and at the same time we are fostering integration across Bavaria," said Bavaria's minister for social affairs Emilia Mueller.

The state's authorities also hope the measure will prevent housing shortages in urban areas, which are popular with some migrants and where it is already difficult to find affordable accommodation.

Migrants can already be assigned to certain areas while they are waiting for their asylum applications to be processed. But now Bavaria has decided that even after those applications have been accepted, refugees will be told where to live for a three year period.

Exceptions would be made for refugees who have family in certain areas.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than a million migrants arrived in Germany last year

The ruling applies only to people who are reliant on state housing, so would be easy to enforce.

But given that left-wing politicians in charge of other German states have criticised the move, it will not necessarily be implemented across the country.

Critics say the best way to enable integration is to ensure refugees have access to German language courses and are given help to find work and training.

Guenter Burkhardt, head of the refugee rights organisation Pro Asyl, told Bavaria's state broadcaster BR that the ruling was not in keeping with the principles of a free society, where it is important to be able to choose where you want to live.

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