Berlin: Germany`s highest court has ordered the government to increase its monthly welfare payments for asylum-seekers to match the level of minimum dole received by jobless natives.
The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe yesterday ruled that no distinction should be made between asylum- seekers from abroad awaiting a decision on their application and unemployed Germans with regard to subsistence payments and the refugees should receive the same level of support as those on the dole.
The court criticised as "evidently insufficient" present monthly welfare payment of 225 euros per adult, which remained stagnant for almost 20 years and asked the government to come up with a new plan to support the refugees, taking into account the present realities.
Until the government draws up a new legislation, its monthly support for refugees should be raised to 336 euros per adult retroactive from January 1, 2012, the court said.
An estimated 130,000 asylum-seekers currently living in this country are expected to benefit from the ruling.
Constitutional court Vice President Ferdinand Kirchhof, who headed a panel of judges, said the monthly allowance for the asylum-seekers was not raised since 1993 even though the cost of living during this period went up by more than 30 per cent and this violated the constitutional guarantee of a "humane subsistence-level support".
Under the constitution, subsistence-level support is equal for all, irrespective of their nationalities, Kirchhof said.
Therefore, the refugees should receive the same level of monthly payments as the dole, which is officially regarded as subsistence-level support.
Jobless Germans and residents of foreign nationalities presently receive a minimum monthly unemployment benefit of 376 euros.
In contrast, welfare payments for asylum-seekers were 35 per cent below this level.
The ruling stemmed from a clarification on the law concerning the payments for asylum-seekers sought by a court in the state of North Rhine Westphalia following petitions filed by two former asylum-seekers.
Germany`s Labour and Social Welfare ministry said it will speedily work out a new legislation on welfare payments for asylum-seekers to comply with the court order.
Refugee organisation Pro Asyl hailed the court ruling as the "end of several years` injustice" against asylum-seekers.
In a press statement, Pro Asyl demanded that the German government dismantle the "discriminatory law" concerning the welfare payments for asylum-seekers and to end the "humiliating practice" of supplying food packages and other material assistance. It also urged the government not to force the refugees to live in camps for asylum-seekers.