German refugee office falling behind in processing asylum requests

Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is failing to meet targets set for processing asylum requests. Workers are expected to get through on average 30 percent more requests per day.

Employees at Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) are failing to meet set targets for the number of asylum requests that must be processed per day.

Workers managed to process an average of  just 2.5 asylum requests per day during the first week of July, well below the 3.5 target set by the office, according to German media reports on Saturday.

Read more: Study: Asylum seekers' chances of staying in Germany vary dramatically by state

Only three out of 66 BAMF branches across Germany managed to meet the target - Neumünster-Boostedt, Mönchengladbach and Bonn - according to internal documents seen by the "Neuen Osnabrücker" newspaper.

In total, around 13,000 requests were processed during the first week of July.

Targets: more harm than good?

Critics of the targets have long complained that they impose too much pressure and affect decision-making among BAMF employees. Even the office's staff council had complained that the job requirements risked "encouraging a superficial working method."

"The figures show that the politically motivated targets are not achievable," said Ulla Jelpke, the opposition Left Party's interior affairs spokesman. "That is why they have to be scrapped."

Excessive volumes prevent requests from being processed fairly, Jelpke added, as exemplified by the high number of rejected Afghan asylum seekers.

Earlier this year, it emerged that asylum applicants had to wait 7.1 months on average to find out whether their request would be granted, while some 59,000 people had to wait for more than a year.

Read more: Soldier-refugee audit means longer waits in asylum process

It was also revealed that he BAMF was dealing with a backlog of almost 500,000 unprocessed requests. While the number of people who entered Germany seeking refuge in 2016 was markedly lower than the year before, many people who arrived during the 2015 migrant crisis only made their applications the following year.

In May, following the case of Franco A., a German military officer who managed to register as a Syrian refugee with alleged plans to carry out a terror attack, BAMF acknowledged its shortcomings in its decision-making and vowed to reform.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

First-time applications in 2016

A total of 722,370 first-time applicants filed requests for political asylum in Germany in 2016, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). The number reflects a roughly 65 percent increase compared to the previous year, when the total number of new applications stood at 441,899.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Follow-up requests 33.3 percent lower

The number of follow-up applications, however, recorded a decline of 33.3 percent. In 2015, 34,750 second-chance asylum requests were filed with BAMF, whereas in 2016 the number fell to 23,175.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Total asylum requests 56 percent higher

Combined, the number of first-time and follow-up applications for 2016 stood at 745,545. In 2015, this number stood at 476,649. So, BAMF recorded a 56.4 percent net increase in the total number of asylum requests in 2016 compared with 2015.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Applications from Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis

The highest number of requests in 2016 were filed by Syrian nationals. According to BAMF’s report, people from the war-torn Middle Eastern state submitted 266,250 of the new applications (36.9 percent). Afghan nationals came in second, with 127,012 (17.6 percent), followed by Iraqis, who filed 96,116 asylum requests (13.3 percent) last year.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Other prominent countries of origin

People from Iran filed 26,426 applications (3.7 percent). Eritreans submitted 18,854 applications (2.6 percent). Albanians totaled 14,853 (2.1 percent), 14,484 people from Pakistan requested asylum (2 percent), and Nigerians submitted 12,709 applications (1.8 percent).

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Young males make up majority of applicants

Nearly three-quarters of the applications filed in 2016 came from people younger than 30 years old. People aged between 18 and 25 filed 196,853 asylum requests, or about 23.5 percent of the overall total, making them the largest age group. The number of applications for children under the age of 4 stood at 78,192 (10.8 percent).

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Almost 700,000 decisions reached in 2016

German authorities accepted 433,920 people of the 695,733 applications they decided on in 2016. The overall protection rate for all countries of origin amounted to 62.4 percent.

New arrivals fall, asylum requests soar in 2016

Crimes against refugee centers still high

Ranging from vandalism to arson, more than 900 attacks on refugee centers were recorded in Germany in 2016. The Federal Criminal Police Office reported that, out of the 921 recorded offenses, 857 were suspected to have had far-right motives. In 2015, 1,031 such offenses were recorded, 923 of which were suspected of having a far-right background.

dm/tj (AFP, KNA, epd)