BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court ruled Wednesday that the benefits the country pays to asylum seekers are far too low and called for a substantial increase.
Adult asylum seekers receive some €224 ($275) per month plus free housing and basic healthcare. That figure hasn't changed since 1993 — despite a roughly 30 percent increase in prices in that period— and compares with the €374 per month that the long-term unemployed currently receive in Germany. About 130,000 people receive the asylum seeker benefits.
The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the money paid to immigrants awaiting asylum decisions is "evidently insufficient" to fulfill "the fundamental right to a minimum existence" because it hasn't been increased in so long.
It also found that "the amounts provided have not been comprehensibly calculated, nor is it apparent that a realistic, needs-oriented calculation has been made."
The court ordered the government to produce new legislation providing for substantially higher benefits, and ordered that in the meantime asylum seekers be paid benefits calculated along the same lines as those for German welfare seekers. The presiding judge, Ferdinand Kirchhof, said that would mean benefits increasing by half to €336 per month.
The ruling stemmed from court proceedings launched by two former asylum seekers.
Germany's Labor Ministry said it would quickly draw up new legislation to comply with the ruling. It added that it needs to reach an agreement with the country's 16 state governments.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed the court's decision.
"Those who are affected live under often very difficult circumstances in Germany," said the agency's representative in Germany, Michael Lindenbauer. "Today's ruling will contribute to improving the social situation of asylum seekers in an appropriate way."