German authorities do not know the whereabouts of 130,000 migrants, the government confessed today. It means that more than one in ten unvetted new arrivals from the Middle East have disappeared, somewhere in Europe.
Of the 1.1 million migrants who registered as asylum seekers in Germany in 2015, “about 13 per cent did not turn up at the reception centres to which they had been directed,” the government said in a written reply to a question from a lawmaker from the Left Party.
The official government admission follows a previous calculation suggesting that the number of missing migrants could be as high as 600,000.
The Interior Ministry said that the migrants, who were initially invited into Europe by German Chancellor Merkel, may have travelled on to other countries or “slipped into illegality”.
Others could have returned to their home countries, and some may appear to have disappeared because they registered more than once in different districts to increase their changes of being sent to their preferred destination.
The 1.1 million migrants registered with the German state’s ‘EASY’ system, operated by the German Ministry For Migration and Refugees. It does little more than record an applicant’s arrival and their country of origin.
Once migrants have registered, officials assign them a place where they are to be cared for, and where they can then make a full application for asylum. However, with huge backlogs and bureaucratic challenges this can take months.
The figures also reveal how the Dublin agreement, whereby asylum seekers are supposed to be sent back to the first European Union (EU) country they enter, has become utterly dysfunctional over the past 12 months.
In 2014 Germany was managing to send back one in five asylum seekers to the country where they had entered the EU. In 2015, however, this ratio had fallen to just one in ten.
“The Dublin system is not only a bureaucratic nightmare, it’s a human one too – it creates uncertainty for refugees in need of protection and it demands an enormous amount of manpower at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and in the courts,” Ulla Jelpke of the Left Party told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
(AFP contributed to this report)