After the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) confirmed earlier this week that the German government is expecting the number of asylum applications it processes to double from nearly 173,000 first-time applications in 2014 to 400,000 in 2015, Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière yesterday warned that the BAMF may have to recalculate in July or August to announce an even bigger number.
In February the BAMF said it expected 300,000 asylum seekers but in the first quarter alone over 85,000 had applied, double the number for the same period in 2014. EurActiv reports that de Maizière pointed to the difficulty in predicting refugee numbers from the West Balkans and those crossing the Mediterranean to Europe as the reason for the changing figures. Around half of all West Balkan refugees and a third of Mediterranean ones end up in Germany where they file applications for asylum.
De Maizière will meet colleagues representing Germany’s state governments for a refugee summit on Friday. He is expected to announce that the BAMF will push for a change in the way applications for asylum are processed by the introduction of an expedited procedure leading to faster deportation for failed applicants. Critics warn this represents an erosion of the right to an individualised asylum procedure.
PRO ASYL, the German refugee rights NGO, has replied urging that the state government representatives attending the Berlin summit should pledge support for a stronger commitment to accept more refugees than other EU states. The NGO points to the fact that Germany hosts the biggest communities of Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Europe and says that future applicants for asylum must be given the opportunity to seek shelter amongst friends and relatives.
The influx of refugees has increased tensions in some German states, according to recorded numbers of politically motivated acts of violence published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior yesterday. Recorded attacks on asylum and refugee shelters rose from 58 in 2013 to 203 in 2014. At the same time anti-Semitic attacks reached a new high of 1,596.