In the course of the current political debate about migration and asylum policy, an expansion of the list of safe countries of origin to include the Maghreb states of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia is also being discussed in Germany. This demand, which has existed for years, corresponds to the reality on the ground and, in addition to accelerated asylum procedures in Germany, would also have an impact on migration movements from these countries to Germany.
According to Article 16a paragraph 3 of the Basic Law, states can be identified in which, based on the legal situation, legal practice and general political conditions, it appears to be guaranteed that there is no threat of political persecution or torture. The individual right to asylum remains unaffected by the classification as a safe country of origin and is already very low in the Maghreb states.
According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), only four of 5,037 asylum applications from these countries were approved this year by the end of September. Only 50 people received refugee protection and 37 people received subsidiary protection.
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia: Classification as safe countries of origin?
Although Morocco as a kingdom, Algeria as a people’s republic with a semi-presidential system and the currently increasingly autocratic Republic of Tunisia have different state systems, the countries have numerous things in common. In addition to cultural and religious similarities, all countries have a very young population with high (youth) unemployment of over ten percent.
If one applies European standards of democracy and the rule of law, freedom of the press and freedom of expression and, in particular, minority rights are certainly deficient. The situation for members of the opposition and LGBTQ groups is particularly difficult. However, what remains crucial for the classification as a safe country of origin is that there are no systematic reasons for flight and expulsion in any of the three countries.
Unlike Libya or Syria, these are not former civil war countries in which people fundamentally have to fear for life and limb. On the contrary, all three states have a functioning statehood with effective institutions and context-specific stability. Morocco is currently developing particularly well economically due to an ambitious development model in the Maghreb and, thanks to its migration policy, has increasingly become an immigration country for people from sub-Saharan Africa since 2014.
The vast majority leave these countries for economic reasons
It is therefore not surprising that the protection rates for asylum seekers from these three countries in Germany have been consistently very low for years. In the period from 2021 to September 2023, the protection rate for Tunisian asylum applications in Germany was 1.1 percent, for Algerians it was 1.2 percent and for Moroccans it was 2.8 percent.
The majority of people from the Maghreb countries leave their countries for economic reasons and not for asylum-related reasons. They are economic migrants and not traditional asylum seekers.
Surveys in local countries have proven this for years. The three main reasons for leaving countries, especially among young men, are unemployment, the search for better living conditions and educational opportunities. Creating local perspectives therefore remains central.