More than half of all refugees who entered Germany before the end of 2015 did not officially apply for asylum within the country’s borders, according to a new investigation conducted by The Daily Mail. The report showed that of the 1.1 million asylum seekers that registered with German authorities upon crossing the country’s borders, only 476,649 have registered for asylum within a specific city.
This leaves over 600,000 unaccounted for, a figure that German authorities admitted may be due to delays in paperwork processing as the European nation attempts to deal with the enormous influx of migrants, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa. Germany’s system for registering asylum seekers, called Erstverteilung von Asylbegehrenden, which translates to Initial Allocation System for Asylum Seekers, allows refugees to enter the country quickly in order to receive the essential food and shelter that they require.
After they enter Germany, asylum seekers are sent to a city where they can receive these services and also apply for official refugee status within the country. The majority of those who have not completed the process may still be waiting for their paperwork to go through; they may also have moved on from Germany and be seeking asylum elsewhere in Europe.
According to German Interior Ministry spokesman Dr. Harald Neymanns, a third possibility is that at least some of these 600,000 refugees are applying multiple times under false identities. Asylum seekers who have family or some familiarity with a certain city, but are sent somewhere else under the German system, may come back and try again under a different name.
“It is entirely possible that if somebody doesn't like where they are being sent, that they simply re-apply again later in order to get sent somewhere else,” Neymanns said.
Germany’s “open-door” policy, which makes it easy for migrants to enter the country simply by giving their country of origin, has led it to accept more asylum seekers than any other European country.
As a result, criticism of the country’s policies has also been rising. On New Year’s Eve, a series of attacks was carried out by as many as 1,000 men, many described as being of Middle Eastern or North African origin, in Cologne. Over 800 women were robbed, harassed, and sexually assaulted, leading to retaliation by German authorities who made it easier to deport migrants if they committed a crime.