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Germany: Scholz says refugee number 'too high at the moment'

September 30, 2023

The chancellor has vowed to help German states deal with refugees amid a sharp rise in asylum claims in Germany. Berlin has already introduced border checks with Poland and the Czech Republic.

Foreigners wait outside the Berlin Immigration Office
The German government has so far received around 175,000 asylum requests this yearImage: Adam Berry/Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz  said in an interview published Saturday that Berlin is seeking to curb illegal immigration with stricter border controls. 

His remarks to German broadcast network Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland come amid a Polish cash-for-visas scandal and attempts in the EU to bring a bloc-wide migration policy, as well as a growing dissatisfaction with the migration policy in Germany

"The number of refugees trying to get to Germany is too high at the moment," the chancellor said. He also said that more than 70% of all arrivals had not been registered beforehand "even though almost all of them have been in another EU country."

What does Scholz want to do?

The chancellor wants to develop "a permanent system for the municipalities" across German states

He said he would discuss a "flexible cap" during a meeting planned with the heads of German states in November to offer financing to states based on the amounts of refugees they receive.

Scholz also said that Berlin asked Warsaw to ensure that visas are not sold to refugees to be easily let into Germany.

Despite several, and sometimes public, disputes within Germany's ruling coalition, Scholz stressed that his government was "in complete agreement on stopping irregular migration to the European Union."

"This can only be done together and in solidarity. Germany will do its utmost to help there," he added. 

How are German towns dealing with refugees?

Why is migration high on the agenda in Germany?

Berlin recently announced border checks with neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic after Germany noted a rise of nearly 80% in asylum claims this year. All three countries are formally part of the Schengen common visa area, where people had long been able to cross borders without strict security checks.

Meanwhile, the arrival of thousands of asylum-seekers on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa has heightened the urgency to agree on a revised pact on migration and asylum.

Those developments have seemingly prompted Germany to declare it was ready to compromise to agree an EU-wide migration regulation aiming to share migrants across the 27-member bloc. 

Scholz is also facing political pressure at home, where the far-right, anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is gaining popularity, while his Social Democratic Party (SPD), along with its coalition partners, sees a drop in ratings. 

Germany’s migrants and minorities fear a far-right surge

How many refugees does Germany get?

Germany has received around 175,000 asylum requests in 2023 — excluding Ukrainians, who go through a special asylum process that the EU introduced in light of Russia's war. Germany has taken in more than 1 million refugees from Ukraine.

In 2015, at the peak of what has been dubbed across the EU as a "migrant crisis" as millions of Syrians fled a civil war in their country, Germany famously received some 1 million refugees

Meanwhile, the German government is seeking to attract migrants to fill some 2 million jobs. Lawmakers voted in June in favor of reforming the skilled work immigration law.

fb/dj (AFP, dpa, KNA) 

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