German authorities brace for another sharp rise in asylum applications. The German government, which warned on Wednesday that applications for political asylum this year will be much higher than the previous estimate of 400,000, is taking unusual steps to deter a flood of would-be migrants from the Western Balkans.
By CYNTHIA KROET, for POLITICO —Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who said on a visit to a police station in Bavaria that he had to “prepare the German public for the number of asylum applications being considerably higher than we estimated,” has published a video advising people in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia not to atttempt to seek asylum in Germany.
“Do not trust promises of getting asylum on economic grounds,” says the video from the interior ministry, which will be translated into the local languages and broadcast in the media of the target countries. “Do not ruin yourself and your family financially by sneaking into Germany.”
The ministry said the film is “made in cooperation with the countries of origin” and is designed to reduce the number of “hopeless asylum applications from the West-Balkans.”
The net number of migrants arriving in Germany rose 19 percent to 400,000 in 2014. That is the highest figure for 20 years, with expectations of another increase in 2015.
Last December, Germany declared Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia “safe countries,” making it more difficult for migrants from those countries to prove they are at risk of political or religious persecution if they have to return home.
Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro do not have this status and Germany’s federal migration office said the number of asylum-seekers from those countries had grown by 515 percent in 2014 from the previous year. There was a 12 percent increase in people arriving from from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia in the same period.
Although very few asylum applications from Balkan countries are successful, the sharp rise in the number of migrants from the area has sparked debate in Germany on how to address the problem. In July, the government of the state of Bavaria announced plans to build two detention centers exclusively for Balkan migrants.