Germany remains the number one destination for asylum seekers in the European Union, and the number of asylum applications has exceeded 100,000 again this year, Welt am Sonntag reports.
By the end of September, the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BAFM) had received 100,278 asylum applications, the German newspaper wrote on Sunday. The number of applications has thus exceeded the 100,000 mark for the ninth year in a row.
Germany is by far the most popular EU destination country for asylum migration. This is shown by an as yet unpublished statistic by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), a community organization for the development of asylum cooperation between member states, which ranked France second after Germany with 54,105 asylum applications, followed by Spain (41,799), Italy (37,492) and Austria (22,928). In September alone, BAFM received 13,849 applications.
In the last four years, the BAFM only had two similarly busy months, November 2017 and January 2019.
The development is due to the fact that illegal — intra-EU — asylum migration from Italy, Greece and Spain to Germany has been strong for years, and a new route to the EU from Belarus has emerged this summer. The number of asylum seekers arriving on German soil via Belarus and Poland has jumped in connection with the activities of the Minsk regime led by President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a report released in early October, the European Commission described this activity as people smuggling funded by the state and organized by Belarusian state-owned tourism companies. In a reply to Welt am Sonntag, German border police reported that 4,900 people were arrested on the German-Polish border area since August, all who had entered Germany without permission through Belarus and Poland. The paper added that the number of arrivals continues to rise.
Asylum seekers seeking travel to the EU have so far usually traveled by plane from Turkey to Belarus. However, to the knowledge of the EU Police Coordination Organization (Europol), charter flights have also recently arrived from Syria. A Syrian airline called Cham Wings operates three flights a week to Minsk, with a total of 500 seats. In addition to Syria, there are also flights from neighboring Jordan and Lebanon to the Belarusian capital, according to Europol. At the time of the last major wave of asylum migration, in 2015, about 890,000 asylum seekers arrived in Germany.
Their number dropped to 280,000 in 2016 and has been steadily declining since then, but remained above 100,000.