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Immigration to Germany at its highest rate in nearly two decades

Immigration to Germany is at its highest number in nearly two decades, according to an annual migration report. In addition to more asylum seekers and refugees, the country has seen a boost in skilled workers.

Some 1.08 million people immigrated to Germany in 2012, a 13 percent increase compared to the year before, the Interior Ministry said in its report presented in Berlin on Wednesday.

Around 712,000 people also left Germany in that same time period. Thus, 370,000 more people moved to Germany than left the country. Overall, 2012 saw Germany's highest immigration rate since 1995.

The number of people

seeking asylum in Germany rose

by 40 percent in 2012 to 64,500, with most coming from one of Serbia, Afghanistan or Syria. Since 2007, the number of asylum seekers in Germany has continued to increase. Still, 2012 is nowhere near Germany's peak year of 1992, when more than 400,000 people sought asylum in the country.

Most of Germany's asylum seekers in 2012 came from Serbia. Nearly 8,500 people from that country sought asylum, an increase of 85 percent. Afghanistan had the second-most asylum seekers coming to Germany, while Syria was third. Some 6,200 people sought asylum from the war-torn country, representing a 135 percent increase compared to 2011.

Increase in skilled workers

There was also an increase in 2012 in skilled workers entering the country. In 2009, 16,000 skilled and highly qualified workers came to the country, compared to 27,000 in 2012. The main countries of origin for skilled workers moving to Germany were India, Croatia, the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina and China.

"We all know that Germany is also dependent on skilled workers," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, adding that the numbers showed Germany is an attractive destination for migrants.

"The focal point for immigration is the integration of the people who come to us," he added.

Greens home affairs spokesman Volker Beck criticized the government for failing to have a strategy to bring skilled workers to Germany, lamenting the country's "dogmatic rejection" of duel citizenship.

In 2012, approximately 620,000 people came to Germany from European Union countries.

Of immigrants hailing from outside the EU, 18 percent moved to Germany for family reasons, 16 percent came for academic, training or other educational reasons, and a further 16 percent

came to take work

. Some 16 percent also came for asylum or humanitarian reasons.

dr/ph (dpa, AFP, epd, KNA)

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