The German army is facing a half billion euro bill for its role in the migrant crisis due to its missions rescuing migrants off the coast, housing them and watching the borders.
The German army or Bundeswehr has spent 428 million euros on its various missions relating to migrants over the past year. The close to half a billion euro sum marks the largest and most costly mission within German borders the force has ever undertaken. Much of the money has been spent on providing shelter and food for the over 1.2 million migrants who have come to Germany over the past year and the costs show no signs of slowing down reports Zeit Online.
According to the German ministry of Defence almost half the cost was incurred during the final four to five months of 2015 when the migrant crisis numbers were at their highest. The report, which was given at the request of German paper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, showed that at the peak of the crisis more than 9,000 soldiers were allocated directly toward helping migrants, though the number had dropped down to 900 along with civilian employees.
Many of the soldiers were used as extensions of the overburdened Federal Migration Agency (BAMF), allowing the government to register more asylum seekers at a quicker pace. The army provided assistance to municipalities and local governments in 855 separate cases and the army has allocated some 46,500 beds in various barracks and gymnasiums across the country for asylum seekers.
The army has also tried its hand at training asylum seekers in order to teach them both marketable job skills and trades that would allow them to rebuild their war-torn countries when, or if, they ever return. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen even suggested that immigrants should be allowed to serve in the German forces, though the soldiers’ union came out bitterly opposed to the idea.
The Defence Ministry claims that the army will likely no longer be needed by the end of the summer of this year, but many have their doubts and the ministry has not set a date for ending the mission. A spokesperson for the ministry said that the army would continue to support the work of BAMF until the end of the year and then troops would be able to return to their normal duties.
The cost of migrants to the German taxpayer have steadily increased as the migrant crisis has progressed. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble announced earlier this year that the entire federal government budget surplus would be spent on migrants.