Tuesday 26 September 2017

Flood of migrants to Germany has dropped sharply this year

Angela Merkel (right) poses for a selfie with a visitor during the German government's open day at the Chancellery in Berlin. Photo: Getty Images
Angela Merkel (right) poses for a selfie with a visitor during the German government's open day at the Chancellery in Berlin. Photo: Getty Images

Frank Jordans, Berlin

Germany's top migration official predicts that fewer than 300,000 refugees will come to the country this year, a sharp drop compared with the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

Frank-Juergen Weise, the head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, said in an interview in the German weekly 'Bild am Sonntag' he expects between 250,000 and 300,000 new arrivals in 2016.

Germany saw an unprecedented influx of asylum-seekers last year, due in part to Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow migrants stuck in other European countries to come to Germany.

Officials have spoken of more than a million arrivals in 2015, but Mr Weise said the actual figure was likely lower once duplicate registrations and people who travelled on to other countries are excluded.

Anti-migrant feeling has increased strongly in Germany over the past year, resulting in growing support for a nationalist party to the right of Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats and a fall in popularity for the chancellor, who has stuck by her motto, "We will manage".

A poll published yesterday by 'Bild am Sonntag' found 50pc of respondents opposed a fourth term for Mrs Merkel, should she decide to run again in 2017.

In an interview yesterday, Mrs Merkel declined to be drawn on whether she would run again, or even when she might announce her intention to stand again.

She also attacked those countries in Europe who say they won't take in Muslim refugees, a position that several eastern European governments have taken in response to the influx of migrants from the Islamic world.

Mrs Merkel said she was hopeful that European Union members would reach an agreement on outstanding questions arising from the migrant crisis, one of which is how to fairly distribute asylum-seekers among all the bloc's 28 member states.

She told German public broadcaster ARD that "everybody has to do their bit" and didn't rule out the possibility of letting some countries take in fewer migrants if they contribute more financially instead.

"How the individual components are weighted will have to be seen," said Mrs Merkel.

But she reiterated her stance that blocking refugees based on their religion was misguided.

"What I continue to think is wrong is that some say 'we generally don't want Muslims in our country, regardless of whether there's a humanitarian need or not'."

Irish Independent

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