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Germany: Asylum applications rose sharply in 2023

January 9, 2024

More than 350,000 people applied for asylum in Germany in 2023, the highest number since 2016. Opposition parties have blamed the government for not controlling what they call a "migration crisis."

Three asylum-seekers seen from the back, walking in the central German state of Thüringen
Germany saw a big rise in asylum applications in 2023Image: Bodo Schackow/dpa/picture alliance

Altogether 352,000 people sought asylum in Germany in 2023, with some 329,000 putting in a first application — a rise here of 51%, or 111,000 people, compared with the previous year — the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has said.

In response to the latest statistics, the opposition has accused the government of promoting illegal immigration with its policies.

People fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, of whom there are more than a million in Germany, are not included in the figures, as they do not have to apply for asylum.

What did the statistics say?

The figures for 2023 show the most asylum applications since 2016, when 722,370 initial applications were filed. 

Some 23,000 of the total of 352,000 applications lodged were follow-up attempts on failed or withdrawn applications carried over from the year before, according to BAMF.

BAMF made decisions on altogether 260,000 applications in 2023, with more than half of them being successful.

Most of the 2023 applications came from people from Syria (104,561), Turkey (62,624) and Afghanistan (53,282). A majority of the Syrians and Afghans, whose countries are stricken by conflict and human rights violations, received a positive decision, but only 13% of Turks were accepted.

Government defense

According to Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of Chancellor Olaf Scholz' Social Democrats (SPD), the statistics demonstrated that the government had to continue to enforce its current policies.

"The asylum numbers for 2023 show that we must rigorously continue our course of limiting irregular migration," she said.

Faeser said the number of people sent back to their countries of origins was a quarter higher than in 2022 and that the parliament would soon pass a package of laws that made such returns easier and quicker.

"But the decisive step forward is that after years of deep divisions within the EU, we have agreed a joint asylum system with which we at last will share the responsibility for refugees more fairly," she said.

Under the system, she said, processing of applications for people with little chance of success would be carried out at the bloc's external borders.

Opposition criticism

Opposition conservatives, however, said the statistics showed that the government was not tackling the problems of migration effectively.

"The government is not coming to grips with the migration crisis," said the deputy leader of the parliamentary party of the bloc formed by the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU).

"Despite the strain on municipalities, the [coalition government] is firmly sticking by its intentions such as making it easier to obtain citizenship, thus giving ever more encouragement for further illegal migration," Andrea Lindholz of the CSU said.

Lindholz criticized that the rules facilitating deportations would not come into force until February at the earliest, and also accused the government of pursuing a "multiculti ideal" with its citizenship plans.

Turkey: Asylum applications in Germany on the rise

tj/wmr (dpa, epd)

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