In Germany, the Syrian baby ‘Angela Merkel’: How and why she’s not got asylum status

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL November 26, 2016

syrians-in-germanyThe Washington Post headline was eye-catching enough. but was it really true?

“Syrian baby named ‘Angela Merkel’ refused asylum in Germany”, said the headline. The story described the gratitude felt by a Syrian couple towards the German chancellor for providing them sanctuary. When the

Syrian woman gave birth to a girl at a hospital that had been repurposed into a refugee shelter in Duisburg, said the Washington Post, she and her husband decided “to honor their new home.”

However, their little ­daughter – less than a year old – as well as the whole family hasn’t been granted refugee status.

The paper quoted Germany’s Bild newspaper to say the family was told their asylum application had been rejected by Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

That’s what explains the Washington Post’s headline. But it doesn’t explain the complexities of the baby – and her family’s – situation. They’ve been offered “subsidiary protection,” which gives them protection in Germany, initially for one year. They could stay much longer – it will all depend on how well they’re adjusting to Germany.

That isn’t strictly about denying asylum.

It’s about a rule that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is enforcing, which is about people who’ve passed through a third country on their way from Syria to Germany. The little ‘Angela Merkel’s’ family did so.

It’s hard. But that headline doesn’t capture that reality.