Why are refugee boats continuing to sink?

Number of asylum seekers falls for the third year in a row

In Germany, 142,509 people submitted asylum applications for the first time last year. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin. That's about 20,000 fewer than in 2018.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) was satisfied: The decline shows "that the numerous measures taken in recent years are effective against uncontrolled immigration. Nonetheless, the pressure to migrate to the EU's external borders and to Germany remains high," he said. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert also confirmed after the 2018 asylum report was passed by the federal cabinet that Germany "coped well" with the large influx of refugees from 2015.

Attractive for students

Immigration to Germany has changed since 2015/16, with the peak of immigration. "The immigration of people seeking protection has declined, and more people are coming to study and work here," explained Seibert. Germany is seeing growth in the influx of scientists and students from all over the world. The migration report shows, among other things, that almost 400,000 foreign students were enrolled at German universities in the 2018/1019 winter semester.

The number of people who applied for asylum fell below the 2014 level for the first time in 2018. This is a "significant decrease in refugee migration," said the spokesman. He also recalled that the number of first-time asylum applications had risen steadily between 2008 and 2016.

New methodology, different results

The Ministry of the Interior itself reports only 111,094 initial applications in the current asylum report. The difference arises from a newly introduced method. Instead of counting all initial asylum applications as before, the statisticians are now excluding children born in Germany from those seeking protection for whom asylum is being applied for. For children born in Germany under one year of age, there were 31,415 initial asylum applications last year. In the case of people - children, young people or adults - who have entered Germany and applied for asylum, the ministry now speaks of "formal cross-border initial asylum applications". The main countries of origin of these people last year were Syria (26,435), Iraq (10,894) and Turkey (10,275).

In addition to the asylum statistics, the migration report was also presented. This shows that almost 1.6 million people moved to Germany in 2018 as in the previous year. At the same time, almost 1.2 million people left the Federal Republic. With around 400,000 people, Germany recorded the lowest migration surplus since 2013. A total of 81.6 million people lived in Germany in 2018, 13.5 million of whom have had migration experience.

sam / fab (afp, dpa, epd, kna, rtr)