IOM Turkey Helps Over 15,000 Syrians to Apply for Family Reunification in Germany
Turkey - Since July 2016, IOM Turkey has helped over 15,000 Syrians to access Germany’s Family Assistance Programme (FAP). The programme helps vulnerable migrants to apply for German family reunification visas and avoid dangerous irregular migration by sea across the Mediterranean.
Over half a million Syrians and Iraqis have registered for asylum in Germany since 2015 and approximately 320,000 have been granted refugee status, according to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
With funding from the German Federal Foreign Office, IOM operates FAP offices in Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq to guide Syrian and Iraqi refugee families through the visa application process. It helps them to correctly complete the forms that will allow them to reunite with close family members already granted asylum in Germany.
The FAP aims to help reunite up to 35,000 families from the region. So far, approximately 25,000 families have been able to join their relatives in Germany. Eighty-five percent of FAP beneficiaries are women.
The need for complementary legal pathways for migration, including new and existing family reunification programmes, is growing, as displacement continues to grow.
“As the region continues to suffer from conflict, each year we see an increased demand for additional resettlement and family reunification options,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey Chief of Mission. “Now is the time for governments, civil society and international organizations to work together to offer additional safe, orderly and legal options for people fleeing violence, rather than forcing them to risk irregular migration.”
Arefa, a Syrian mother, was assisted by IOM’s FAP office in Turkey. At the height of the 2015 Mediterranean Crisis, her husband was one of almost a million migrants and refugees to make the dangerous journey to Germany in the hope of building a safe life for his family.
“We lost everything in Syria. After years of war, my children needed a future to look to,” said Arefa. In Istanbul she waited with her five children for news from her husband.
Six months after her husband was granted refugee status in Germany, Arefa was able to save the EUR 30 needed for her (five-person) family’s visa appointment. “I had no idea what to do or how to get the documents that the German government needed,” she said.
Thanks to IOM, Arefa was able to prepare and submit the required paperwork. She and her children also attended integration classes organized by IOM to help prepare them for life in Germany. After nearly two years of separation, Arefa and her family have now finally been reunited in Germany.
Successful FAP applicants receive residency permits valid for the same duration as those of their family members in Germany. In order to receive refugee status, they must still go through Germany’s official asylum application process.
More details about the FAP program can be found at Familyreunion-syria.diplo.de or through Facebook www.facebook.com/IOM.Family.Assistance.Programme.