Germany to get 750 000 asylum seekers

2015-08-18 18:25


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Berlin - Germany expects up to 750 000 people to seek asylum this year, a business daily cited government sources as saying, up from a previous estimate of 450 000, as some cities say they already cannot cope and hostility towards migrants surges in some areas.

The influx has driven the issue of asylum seekers high up Germany's political agenda. Chancellor Angela Merkel has tried to address fears among some voters that migrants will eat up taxpayers' money and take their jobs. The number of attacks on refugee shelters has soared this year.

The interior ministry declined to comment on the figures reported in the Handelsblatt but is set to issue its latest predictions this week. Its previous estimate for asylum applications in 2015 was already double those recorded in 2014.

Germany is the biggest recipient of asylum seekers in the European Union, which has been overwhelmed by refugees fleeing war and poverty in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.

There is also a flood of asylum seekers from Balkan countries. Almost half of the refugees who came to Germany in the first half of the year came from southeast Europe.

Along with a shortage of refugee lodgings in cities including Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, Germany also struggles to process applications, which can take over a year. Merkel has long said this must be accelerated.

On Tuesday, the finance ministry seconded 50 customs officials to the National Office for Migration and Refugees for six months to get through the backlog.

Not sustainable

After Germany, Sweden is the next most generous recipient of asylum seekers in Europe. In 2014, it recorded 81 200 application and anti-immigration sentiment is on the rise.

The UN High Commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres told Die Welt daily that Germany and Sweden were bearing too much of the burden.

"In the long run it is not sustainable that only two EU countries - Germany and Sweden - with effective asylum structures accept the majority of refugees," he said.

Both Merkel and President Joachim Gauck have urged Germans to shun intolerance and hostility towards foreigners.

In the first six months of the year, Germany saw 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters, nearly as many as in the whole of last year. Many have taken place in former Communist eastern states.

Read more on:    angela merkel  |  sweden  |  germany  |  refugees  |  migrants

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