syria migrants refugees kids.jpg
Photograph: EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

The number of unaccompanied refugee minors entrusted to German state care soared to 42,300 in 2015, rising by more than 260 per cent in comparison to the year before, the Federal Statistics Office announced Tuesday.

This year's numbers were an 11-year high for the office, which has been keeping record of child refugees since 1995.

To date, only 53 per cent of the children who arrived in 2015 had applied for asylum, the office said, citing the federal migration agency. Bottlenecks among authorities were to blame for the hold-up.

The reported number of unaccompanied arrivals corresponds with the number of those becoming wards of the state, according to the statistics office.

BumF, the government association responsible for unaccompanied minor refugees, says the numbers are in actuality much lower because many of them are registered multiple times. In addition, the number of unaccompanied minors has significantly decreased since November.

According to a government response to a parliamentary information request last month, the number of unaccompanied minors applying for asylum in Germany has leaped, with applications up six-fold in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2015.

Of the 14,429 minors who applied for asylum in Germany last year, 71.3 per cent are aged 16 or 17, while 28.7 per cent are under the age of 16. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In total, youth welfare offices took 77,600 children and young adults in their care in 2015, which was 62 per cent more than in 2014. Besides unaccompanied migration, other reasons children became wards of the state included problems at school or drug addiction.

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