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German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere explains dramatic drop in asylum seeker numbers

German Federal Minister of Interior Dr Thomas de Maizière

The number of asylum applicants in Germany went down in the first six months of 2016, the Federal Minister of Interior Dr Thomas de Maizière, has said.

German Federal Minister of Interior Dr Thomas de Maizière
German Federal Minister of Interior Dr Thomas de Maizière

The minister, who also heads the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), said that from early January to late June this year a total of 222,264 newcomers were registered in the EASY system.

“The number of asylum applicants in Germany is still high, but compared with last year it has clearly gone down. The measures taken at German and European level are working,” Mr De Maizière said.

He attributed the drop in the number of asylum applicants in Germany to the closure of the Balkan route and the agreement between the EU and Turkey.

These two measures considerably reduced the number of arrivals in Greece, the minister said. The number of migrants arriving in Europe via the central Mediterranean route, however, remained more or less unchanged compared with last year.

The minister nevertheless described these developments as “unstable”. “A considerable deterioration” would still be possible, he said.

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“Even though the refugee crisis has not been resolved, a solution is making good progress in Europe and very good progress in Germany in an orderly way,” Mr De Maizière said.

Outlining the measures taken at national level to cope with the influx of refugees, minister said the work of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has become much more efficient.

He confirmed that that the number of old cases had been drastically reduced.

In the first six months of 2016 as many asylum decisions were taken as in the entire previous year, he underlined. However, a lot still remains to be done.

The minister said the necessary legal framework had been created with the second asylum package, the Act to Improve the Registration and Sharing of Data for Purposes of Residence and Asylum Law and the Integration Act.

Explaining the importance of integration, Mr De Maizière said: “Integration is not a measure only benefiting refugees; on the contrary, integration is in our very own national interest. The most expensive solution is not to conduct integration measures, which leads to social conflicts. Successful integration, however, benefits all of us.”

He also revealed that the number of integration courses had increased considerably this year.

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