Berlin has announced hundreds of thousands of Syrians entering Germany will not be granted asylum or refugee status in a surprise U-turn from Angela Merkel's "open-door policy" on refugees.
While Syrian refugees will still be able to enter Germany, they will only be able to stay for one year with "subsidiary protection", which limits their rights as refugees.
The policy shift followed an emergency meeting of Ms Merkel's cabinet and coalition partners on Thursday.
Although the meeting decided against setting up "transit zones" to process refugees on Germany's borders with Austria, they agreed on prompt deportation of people whose asylum claims had failed.
Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced that Berlin would start to fall in line with other governments in the European Union, The Guardian reports.
“In this situation other countries are only guaranteeing a limited stay,” he said.
“We’ll now do the same with Syrians in the future. We’re telling them ‘you will get protection, but only so-called subsidiary protection that is limited to a period and without any family unification.'"
An interior ministry spokesperson told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is instructed henceforth to grant Syrian civil war refugees only subsidiary protection."
Germany, along with Sweden and Austria, have so far been the most open countries in response to the growing refugee crisis.
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