The German authorities register a new wave of refugees. How high are the numbers exactly and what are the motives of the refugees? A Pioneer research team answers these and other questions.
In Germany it is gradually becoming Christmassy – not in the world around us. Shooting and deaths continue in Ukraine, fear of conscription is rampant in Russia, civil war is raging in Syria and Turkey is terrified of inflation at 85 percent.
In short, millions of people, around 21.8 under the definition of the UN refugee commissioner, are fleeing. Quite a few of them in the direction of the Federal Republic.
According to the Interior Ministry, the total number of refugees in Germany is around 1.3 million. For comparison: in 2015, 900,000 refugees came to Germany.
Enlightenment is necessary – true to the facts and politically independent, without ready-made friend-enemy templates. The motto of the Austrian essayist Ingeborg Bachmann applies: “The truth is reasonable for people.”
With this in mind, a research team led by Pioneer Editor-in-Chief Michael Bröcker has set to work to answer the twenty most pressing questions about the new refugee movement.
After discussions with criminal experts, federal police officers and the Federal Office for Migration as well as the Ministry of the Interior, the first ten answers are here today; the others will follow tomorrow:
1. A new wave of refugees is registered by the authorities. What are the exact numbers and what is the number of unreported cases?
Answer: By the deadline of November 19, around 1.1 million refugees had come from Ukraine alone. They may enter the country for up to 90 days without a visa or residence permit and generally do not apply for an asylum procedure. They are recorded in the Central Register of Foreigners.
In addition, from January to October, a total of 181,612 asylum applications were registered at the responsible Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), of which 159,669 were initial applications. This is an increase of around 20 percent compared to the previous year.
This means that a total of around 1.3 million refugees have come to Germany to date – a new record. For comparison: in 2015, 900,000 refugees came.
The number of unreported cases is even higher because the federal police only make random checks at the borders and many refugees do not want to be registered.
“There is no information available on people who are in Germany without any contact with the authorities,” confirms the Ministry of the Interior. And admits: “Migration pressure is increasing significantly.”
2. How has the composition of the 2022 refugee flow to Germany changed compared to 2015? Beyond the Ukraine refugees, most asylum seekers come from Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran.
The increasing numbers of Turkish asylum seekers are new. From January to October there were 15,018 first-time asylum applications, the highest number in over 20 years.
These include Turks of Kurdish origin who are fleeing the Erdogan regime, but also economic refugees who are looking for a new home in the face of inflation.
However, exact figures are difficult to obtain because many refugees had their documents taken by smugglers on the journey or refused to provide the information. They fear that otherwise their chances of asylum will diminish.
3. Ukrainian refugees do not need an asylum application for legal residence. Despite this, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees saw a 35 percent increase in asylum applications compared to the previous year. As the?
The majority of Ukrainian refugees do not go through an asylum procedure as they can stay here for 90 days without a residence permit. In order to provide people from Ukraine with unbureaucratic protection, the EU declared on March 4 this year that refugees from Ukraine can enter the country without a visa and enjoy temporary protection in the EU.
But: 50,000 Syrians, 26,000 Afghans and 15,000 Turks alone submitted an initial application for asylum up to and including October. That explains the increase.
4. What kind of social benefits are waiting for Ukrainians in this country? In Germany, refugees from the Ukraine have been integrated into the social welfare system since June 1 and receive a work permit and access to statutory health insurance, Hartz IV benefits, child benefit, student loans and basic security in old age. Refugee organizations criticize this preferential treatment as a “two-class society”.
5. How many Russian refugees – who do not want to join the military after the recent wave of conscription – are currently coming to us? Between March and May this year, 5,500 long-stay visas were issued to Russians, a 77 percent increase from a year earlier.
Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization, even more Russians have come. The human rights organization ProAsyl reports that they are contacted every minute by Russians who want to flee the country for fear of military service and state repression.
6. What do you know about the demographics of new arrivals? Mostly women and children come from the Ukraine, according to the federal police, as in 2015 and 2016, it is increasingly young men from the other countries who reach the country via the Western Balkans route.
7. What exactly are the motives of these refugees, or to put it more precisely: is the Federal Republic just a kind of temporary residence for them or do they want to live here permanently? Many Ukrainians want to return to their country, according to surveys. But the central question for them is: when?
The other refugees from North Africa and the Middle East usually want to stay here. One indication is the high number of around 300,000 people who are obliged to leave the country and who do not want to return to their home country despite being asked to do so. They could and would have to be deported – if the law and order are upheld.
8. How many deportations have there been in total this year? According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Germany deported a total of 6,200 asylum seekers in the first half of 2022, around 1,800 of them within Europe. More recent information is not available.
9. Where are these people housed and who pays for them? The federal states are responsible for admission, care and accommodation. From the initial reception facilities, people are distributed to the municipalities depending on availability.
The federal government is making an additional 1.5 billion euros available for taking in refugees this year. According to the Prime Minister’s Conference, in 2023 it should be another 2.75 billion.
But it is precisely the cities and communities that are reaching their limits. Reinhard Sager, President of the District Council, says: “People already have to be accommodated in gyms and other makeshift accommodation. We don’t want conditions like 2015/2016, but we’re heading towards that.”
10. What do the police report about the behavior of the refugees or, more precisely, how law-abiding are they? It is difficult to assess how often refugees in Germany come into conflict with German laws.
One thing is certain: 7.1 percent of all registered suspects in the police crime statistics for 2021 were immigrants. However, there are no clear figures on the delinquency of refugees.
What we know from crime statistics is the distinction between nationals and non-Germans. However, this also includes EU citizens, i.e. everyone in the Federal Republic who does not have a German passport.
Non-EU citizens in particular often do not have a work permit and become criminals to make a living. In 2021, 34 percent of the suspects were not German, almost 39 percent in the case of murder and over 56 percent in the case of pimping.
However, the proportion of foreigners in the population was only 13.1 percent. Part 2 will follow tomorrow. Then, among other things, the following questions will be answered: How are these people actually supposed to find a regular apartment?
Are the refugees helping us to combat the shortage of skilled workers? And how do the Federal Chancellor and opposition leaders actually feel about the issue?
Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.