Germany could see as many as 800,000 migrants arriving this year – four times the number from last year, the country’s interior minister has said, citing current trends as a signal for the drastic increase.
Thomas de Maiziere told reporters on Wednesday that more than 360,000 migrants have entered Germany this year, including a record of 83,000 in July, which he predicted would be broken in August.
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Germany remains the top destination for refugees in Europe, receiving 43 percent of all asylum applications in the 28-nation European Union, he said, adding that Europe has to come up with a better way to share the burden.
“Germany cannot take 40 percent of all of the asylum seekers forever,” he said.
The minister said temporary housing was in short supply but officials were working to resolve that. Germany has room for 45,000 people in temporary facilities but estimates it needs up to 150,000 places.
De Maiziere said government agencies had received “massive increases” in personnel to speed up the process of applying for asylum. Through July, Germany received 218,221 asylum applications, an increase of nearly 125 percent compared to the same period last year.
Germany is also looking at differentiating between refugees from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, and the roughly 40 percent of asylum applicants who come from the Balkan nations.
In Geneva, the UN refugee chief, Antonio Guterres, told the AP news agency that Germany’s giant role in taking in migrants was “very probably unsustainable” and called for a broader response from the European Union. He said the situation pointed to “obvious dysfunction of the European asylum system”.
Guterres cautioned that other EU nations should not read the “generous” effort by Germany as a chance “to wash their hands and think, well, they are going to Germany – we don’t need to worry.”