BERLIN, Aug 18, 2015:
Germany is expecting 750,000 people to seek asylum this year, a business daily cited government sources as saying, up from a previous estimate of 450,000, as some cities say they already cannot cope and hostility towards migrants surges in some areas.
The influx has driven the issue of asylum seekers high up Germany’s political agenda. Chancellor Angela Merkel has tried to address fears among some voters that migrants will eat up taxpayers’ money and take their jobs. The number of attacks on refugee shelters have soared this year.
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the figures reported in the Handelsblatt but is set to issue its latest predictions this week. Its previous estimate of asylum applications for 2015 was already double that of 2014’s level.
Germany is the biggest recipient of asylum seekers in the European Union, which has been overwhelmed by growing numbers of refugees fleeing war and violence in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.
There is also a flood of asylum seekers from Balkan countries. Almost half of the refugees who came to Germany in the first half of the year came from southeast Europe.
Both Merkel and President Joachim Gauck have urged Germans to shun intolerance and hostility towards foreigners.
In the first six months of the year, Germany saw 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters, nearly as many as in the whole of last year. Many have taken place in former Communist eastern states.