Germany offers temporary visas for Turkish, Syrian quake victims


People affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria will be allowed to stay temporarily with relatives in Germany, it has said.

“This is emergency aid,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the Bild newspaper on Saturday. “We want to allow Turkish or Syrian families in Germany to bring their close relatives from the disaster area to their homes without bureaucracy.”

She said this would be done with regular visas, which would be swiftly issued and remain valid for three months.

The decision comes as the death toll from the earthquakes surpassed 29,000 on Sunday. Millions have been displaced in both countries.

About 2.9 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, with more than half holding Turkish nationality.

The Syrian community is also large and is estimated at 924,000 since former German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the borders to refugees in 2015 and 2016.

There had been 118,000 Syrians in Germany in 2014.

“As the German government, we want to help ensure that families in Germany can temporarily take in relatives affected by the earthquake if they no longer have a roof over their heads or need medical treatment,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Twitter on Saturday.

Baerbock said the foreign and interior ministries had formed a “task force” to start the initiative.

“The aim is to make visa procedures as unbureaucratic as possible for those affected. We have increased staff at foreign missions in Turkey and reallocated capacities,” added Baerbock.

The accelerated and priority visas are intended to benefit people who have been particularly affected individually by the disaster, who may be in danger of becoming homeless, for example, or have suffered injuries that require treatment, the dpa news agency reported.

It added that the scheme is designed for victims who wish to seek refuge in Germany and stay with first- or second-degree family members who are either German citizens or who have a permanent residence permit.__Al Jazeera