The number of refugees and asylum seekers living in Germany has reached a new high. Elsewhere in Europe, the number of people seeking protection is also increasing. Refugees and migrants are using the same routes as before, although many governments have introduced countermeasures to block their travel.
A total of 3.26 million people are registered in Germany’s central foreign registry as part of the asylum procedure. This number as of the end of June 2023 and 111,000 higher than the figure six months earlier. These include recognized refugees, war refugees, asylum seekers or so-called tolerated persons, many of whom have lived in Germany for many years or more. even decades with an accepted residence permit.
The most recent figures were revealed as part of the Federal Interior Ministry’s official response to a question posed by Clara Bünger, the Left’s Bundestag deputy.
Almost 12% of rejected people have ‘Duldung’
The Central Register of Foreigners also lists more than 279,098 people as being obliged to leave the country. This means that their presence is only being tolerated due to special circumstances.
About 80% of those required to leave the country have a so-called “Duldung” (toleration permit) as they cannot be deported at present, for example due to the security situation in their country of origin or other for legal or humanitarian reasons.
In other instances, individuals are accepted because they have enrolled in training or job in Germany, which would exempt them from deportation while maintaining their exclusion from the rights of asylum seekers.
A quarter of those who are tolerated in Germany lack appropriate travel papers or are unable to get them from their nations’ embassies.
List of safe countries of origin under reconsideration
Some politicians in Germany, like Christian-Democrat opposition leader Friedrich Merz, want to do something about the high number of people in Germany under a “Duldung,” suggesting that the list of safe countries of origin should be expanded so more rejected asylum seekers can be deported home.
Merz suggested that Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and India should also be declared safe countries of origin. In a tweet dated two weeks ago, Merz also added Moldova to that list.
Just a few days later, the German cabinet approved Nancy Faeser’s (SPD) draught bill designating Moldova and Georgia as safe countries of origin.
However, German international Minister Annalena Baerbock has stated that she is opposed to adding more items to that list, arguing that they are mostly domestic in nature and should not be intermingled with international policy.
According to Baerbock, she agrees with the federal cabinet’s recommendation to add Georgia and Moldova to the list of safe countries of origin. Later this month, both houses of parliament will discuss this.
But Baerbock told the Funke media group that those two states in particular were well on their way to becoming EU members and had been implementing far-reaching reforms when it comes to the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
Currently, Germany’s list of safe countries of origin includes all EU countries, Ghana, Senegal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, northern Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.
Rise in migrant arrivals across EU
The European Union meanwhile says that the number of refugees and migrants coming to Europe in general is also on the rise. The European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) presented its latest figures, saying that more than half a million people had applied for asylum in the first half of 2023 in the EU states as well as in Norway and Switzerland.
The majority of people using irregular means to comes to the EU are Syrian and Afghan nationals, EU Commission spokeswoman Anitta Hipper said.
Most of them continue to use the Mediterranean Sea routes and the Balkan route despite the many fortifications and obstacles they face.
Both routes are considered extremely dangerous, as migrants face inhumane conditions during their journey. On the sea route, hundreds of people drown each year; the Mediterranean Sea in particular is considered to be one of the most perilous migration routes in the world.
According to the Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 2,300 people have already died or gone missing while trying to cross this year.
The number of unreported cases is assumed to be significantly higher.
EU deals with Libya and Tunisia failing
The EU has recently signed migration agreements with departure countries like Libya and Tunisia to ensure that people are prevented from reaching Europe — in exchange for large sums of money. In many cases, those policies even backfire, with both countries facing serious accusations of grave human rights abuses when dealing with migrants.
Despite these deals, the number of refugees and migrants arriving in the EU continues to rise, according to the report, failing to deter people from embarking on migration journeys.
According to the latest published figure, the number of arrivals is 28% higher than the comparable figure from the first half of 2022.
Commission spokeswoman Hipper meanwhile announced that action plans already exist for regulating migration via the central Mediterranean route and the Western Balkans. A plan for the eastern Mediterranean is also planned, she added, without providing further details.