Germany has officially received one million asylum seekers in 2015. The figure has exceeded all official expectations, but may in fact be an underestimate as it takes time to register newcomers in the country’s ‘EASY’ computer system.
“From January until today, a million asylum seekers have registered at the initial reception centres of the federal states through the so-called EASY-System and were then accommodated,” said Emilia Müller, the minister of social affairs in the German state of Bavaria said in a statement.
Spelling out what that meant for her home state of Bavaria, she continued: “One million EASY-registrations mean around 153,000 asylum seekers for Bavaria. That’s 153,000 asylum seekers attending our receptions and for whom we must provide medical examinations, care and accommodation. That’s more people than live, for example, in Heidelberg.”
However, experts are in disagreement over whether the figures are accurate. According to The Local, some are suggesting that the figures may be higher as it takes time for new arrivals to register at the asylum centres. Others are suggesting that migrants may register multiple times, inflating the figures.
However, all are in agreement that the number represents a dramatic increase on initial estimates. In January the German interior minister Thomas de Maizière estimated that some 300,000 asylum seekers would arrive in Germany this year, but he later raised that figure to 450,000 and then in August to 800,000.
“It will be the largest influx in the country’s post-war history,” de Maiziere told a news conference in August, adding that Germany should expect high numbers for years to come.
“It’s a challenge for all of us at the state, federal and local levels,” he said. “We can master this challenge. I don’t think this will overwhelm Germany. We can handle this.”
But as the numbers have continued to skyrocket, political will is turning against Germany’s open doors policy. Muller has called for a cap on asylum applications in light of hitting the one million mark, saying: “We now more than ever need a ceiling on the number of refugees we accommodate, because Germany cannot shoulder such an influx permanently.”
If the figure of one million is correct, it represents a five-fold increase on 2014’s total, which according to Eurostat was a mere 202,000.
Follow Donna Rachel Edmunds on Twitter: Follow @Donna_R_E or e-mail to: email@example.com