Germany admits 130,000 asylum seekers ‘lost’ raising fears over crime and terrorism
The government admits losing track of around 13 per cent of the 1.1 million people registered in Germany as asylum seekers.
Refugees queue at the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs last month. Photo: EPA
By Justin Huggler, Berlin
2:41PM GMT 26 Feb 2016, Telegraph
More than 130,000 asylum seekers may have disappeared in Germany, according to newly released government figures, raising concerns over terrorism and organised crime.
In a parliamentary answer, Angela Merkel’s government said it had lost track of around 13 per cent of the 1.1 million people registered as asylum seekers last year.
The missing people never arrived at official government refugee accommodation which had been assigned to them.
The interior ministry later tried to row back on the admission, claiming the figures had been exaggerated by errors in data entry.
But there will be concerns those unaccounted for could include Islamic extremists or organised criminals who entered the country posing as refugees.
The new figures emerged just two months after unconfirmed reports the German authorities were urgently searching for 12 asylum seekers who had vanished.
They were believed to have crossed the border using forged passports from the same source as those used by some of the Paris attackers.
The latest admission came in a written answer to a parliamentary question from the opposition Left Party.
The government said it believed many of those who had disappeared had simply moved on to other countries, while others had “gone underground illegally”.
Mrs Merkel has moved to tighten asylum rules in recent months, and economic migrants with no genuine claim may choose to go underground to avoid deportation.
But the interior ministry on Friday tried to downplay the figures.
“This information is nothing new,” Tobias Plate, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said.
“The ministry has long noted that in a significant number of cases an asylum seeker who has been registered in the system does not arrive at the reception centre he or she was assigned.”
The figures had been inflated by double entries in Germany’s EASY database, which was designed to help find accommodation for asylum seekers rather than keep track of them, he said.
It emerged last year that the German authorities kept little information on the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers crossing into the country.
Migrants were not fingerprinted and their identities were not confirmed, making it easy for them to be entered into the system at more than one location.
The government has since introduced new measures to record the identities of asylum seekers on entry, Mr Plate said.
Cubicles ready to accommodate refugees at the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin.
The controversy came as a senior official in Berlin was arrested on charges of taking €51,000 (£40,000) in bribes to award government contracts for security at refugee shelters.
The 48-year-old official, who has not been named, ensured contracts for security at several shelters went to one security firm in return for the bribes, according to prosecutors.
The official was fired from his post at LaGeSo, the Berlin health and social security office, which has been heavily criticised for backlogs that have seen asylum seekers forced to sleep in the open and queue for hours in sub-zero temperatures.