Germany says asylum applications up in first quarter of 2016

More than 180,000 people applied for asylum in Germany in the first quarter of this year, an increase on the same period in 2015, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference, de Maiziere said that despite the year-on-year increase in asylum bids, the number of arrivals had decreased sharply between February and March as a result of border closures along the Western Balkan route.

The minister said that the number of new arrivals dropped by about two-thirds from 61,428 in February to 20,608 in March, adding that the figures may be inflated because of double registrations in different parts of Germany.

At the height of the refugee crisis in November, the monthly number of arrivals stood at 206,000.

In total, Germany took in some 1.1 million migrants in 2015, the largest influx since World War II.

"The number of asylum requests is up - the number of people arriving in Germany is down," said de Maiziere, adding that the seemingly contradictory trends were down to the fact that the authorities dealing with asylum requests were becoming more efficient.

De Maiziere was holding a press conference alongside Frank-Juergen Weise, the head of the Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), who said that authorities are dealing with a backlog of 410,000 asylum requests.

As many as 400,000 other migrants are inside Germany, but have yet to submit their asylum bids, Weise said.

In response to a question on how many migrants Germany would be able to take in in 2016, de Maiziere declined to give an exact number but said that Germany's capacity to accommodate refugees was "great."

"The more confident we are - confident in our freedom and our heritage - the more capable we will be of tolerance and allowing integration to happen," he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said her government would put forward new legislation and policies to aid the integration of refugees.

She was speaking ahead of a meeting between her government and representatives from German industry associations.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

More from Europe

Norway: No suspects linked to stolen gate from former Nazi camp

Norwegian police said Saturday they had no suspects linked to the find of a gate believed to have been stolen in...

Scottish village gets 384,000-pound gift from former German POW

A village in Scotland has received a gift of 384,000 pounds (489,000 dollars) from a German soldier who was held...

German police record 877 attacks against refugee homes this year

There have been 877 attacks against refugee homes in Germany so far in 2016, police said Saturday, suggesting that...

Christmas tree thieves in Germany drunkenly stumble into police

Two drunk Christmas tree thieves in the south-western German city of Ulm were caught red-handed when they were...

Two migrants die in Austria while hiding in freight train

Two migrants have died in Austria while hiding in a goods train, police said on Saturday.