A German Interior Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that Germany would start holding personal hearings for asylum seekers from Syria as of Friday, aiming to reverse a policy of granting Syrians almost automatic refugee status.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming of Syrian refugees received both praise and explicit criticism from some ministers for her warm approach. Opposition rejected her opinion at home and abroad after the suicide two bombers of Nov 13 Paris attacks were found to have been carrying fake Syrian passports.
EU parliament chief Martin Schulz, who is a German Social Democrat, blamed the government of running a backlog of more than 300,000 unprocessed asylum applications while the Interior Ministry indicated that civil servants managed to shorten the processing of asylum demands to five months from seven in 2014.
"This regulation will be valid as of January 1 regardless of the country of origin," the German Interior Ministry spokeswoman said.
Germany registered 964,574 asylum applications from the start of 2015 to the end of November, which puts the country on track for a million arrivals in 2015.
In 2015, over 3,600 people died in the Mediterranean while trying to reach safe European countries, according to the United Nations International Organization for Migration.
Since the end of 2014, Syrians have enjoyed a simplified asylum status, which has exempted them from personal hearings. The process has generated critics that DAESH exploited it to smuggle in militants to carry out attacks across Europe.