Authorities in Germany are expecting more than 400,000 applications for asylum this year. The figure includes economic refugees from the Balkans as well as migrants fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East.
Germany was expecting a record number of asylum seekers this year, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) announced on Thursday. There would be around 400,000 first-time applicants for asylum and an additional 50,000 repeat applications, the BAMF forecasted in a statement to individual German states.
According to the German Interior Ministry, 114,125 persons had applied for asylum until April this year, an increase of 130 percent compared to the same period last year.
The exceptionally high number was put down to a large number of people coming from the West Balkan countries, including Kosovo, Serbia and Albania, looking to find jobs and social benefits in Germany. Many others included those who were fleeing conflict and poverty in countries like Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria in Africa or Syria in the Middle East.
The BAMF initially estimated the number of migrants in 2015 at 300,000 - a number that was strongly criticized by individual states, who expected more than 500,000 refugees. The federal office subsequently revised its statistics for this year, which proved to be almost twice as many as last year's 202,000 applications.
States seek federal help
Meanwhile German states expressed their worries about the logistics and financing involved in housing the refugees. North Rhine-Westphalia's minister for federal affairs, Angelica Schwall-Düren, said the states expected the federal government's long-term support in the maintenance and housing of migrants. She said Europe and Germany needed to create "resilient structures" to provide succor for people coming from conflict zones.
Representatives were scheduled to discuss dealing with the situation in a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, which would be attended by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and the head of the Chancellery, Peter Altmeier.
The interior minister was expected to focus on a new distribution of refugees in Germany, local media reported. Asylum seekers from Balkan countries, whose applications are rejected in the majority of cases, were to be taken to special refugee homes which would decide on granting their request to stay in Germany.
However, no major decisions were expected from the refugee summit, referred to as an "informal conversation between the chancellor and representatives of the states to discuss further measures in refugee and asylum policies" by a government spokesman.
Only eight of Germany's 16 states would be present in the meeting to simplify talks, the spokesman said. A final decision on the country's refugee policy could only be expected after a formal discussion among Merkel and the state heads on July 18.
mg/sms (Reuters, KNA)