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NRW minister bemoans number of North Africans

January 26, 2016

Ralf Jäger, interior minister in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), has criticized the "concentration" of North African refugees in the western German state. He said many North Africans had been linked to crime in the region.

North African refugees in Chemnitz, Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Schmidt

Speaking in Düsseldorf on Tuesday, Ralf Jäger (a Social Democrat) demanded a more equal distribution of North African migrants across the country. He said that NRW in was currently home to 80 percent of the Moroccan refugees in Germany, and to 50 percent of Algerian asylum seekers nationwide.

Jäger said the high figures were largely due to the close ties between the Federal Office for Refugees and Migration (BAMF) and specialists such as interpreters and country experts, based in particular regions.

As a result, refugees from Morocco and Algeria have been allocated across only four of Germany's 16 states, namely NRW, Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony.

According to Jäger, NRW received 6,782 refugees from Algeria and 6,429 from Morocco in 2015, increases of between 300 and 350 percent from the previous year.

'Disproportional involvement'

The regional interior minister said the current state of affairs was "unacceptable," adding that NRW was now facing an increasing amount of crime linked to the North African refugees. Jäger also warned against the "stigamatization" of North Africans, however.

According to an evaluation and analysis project led by Cologne police, more than 21,000 offenses and 17,000 suspects of North African origin have been detected since 2013.

In a second project named "Casablanca," launched in mid-2014, Düsseldorf police caught 2,242 North African suspects in more than 4,000 offenses, which included pick-pocketing, robbery and bodily harm.

In addition to the police reports, Jäger said on Tuesday that North African immigrants were "often disproportionately involved in disputes at refugee accommodation."

Many of the supects in the sexual assaults in Cologne at New Year were also described to have been of North African or Middle Eastern appearance.

In light of the hundreds of complaints, a debate has been ignited both regionally and nationwide over whether authorities should make the nationality of criminal suspects public.

ksb/msh (AFP, KNA)