The German government started constructing two youth centers in northern Morocco to house local "street children" as well as unaccompanied Moroccan minors who have been deported by Germany, according to a report from the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. The pilot project creates a legal pathway for Germany to start deporting youths without needing to necessarily locate their families first. In recent years, Germany hasn't deported any unaccompanied minors.
According to Germany's Interior Ministry, who shared the information with Welt am Sonntag, the project involves:
-Two shelters in Morocco that will each house 100 youths.
-Minors will receive social assistance, counseling and access to educational opportunities.
-Centers built in cooperation with the Moroccan government, local officials and NGOs.
According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, the shelters "will be open to those under 18 returning voluntarily, as well as forced deportees, especially youths convicted of crimes." Christian Democrat (CDU) politician and former head of the Bundestag's interior commission, Ansgar Heveling told the paper that although the project is an important step, "it would make more sense to achieve a reunification with their families in their home countries." "The fact that not a single unaccompanied migrant could be sent home in recent years shows that the authorities must step up their efforts to locate the families," Heveling added. Welt spoke with migrant youth center counselors in Germany who said that they have not seen any attempts by the authorities to locate the youths' families although many of them regularly talk of the phone with their mothers.
Unaccompanied minors whose asylum applications have been denied can only be deported by Germany under strict conditions. Prior to deportation, Germany authorities must ensure one of two options:
-A family member or responsible guardian in their home country will take in the child
-A "suitable" reception facility is available in their country of origin
However, hundreds of minors have been turned away at the border or had their asylum applications rejected in recent years.