Number of people seeking protection rises to almost 1.8 million

Around 1.8 million people seeking protection stayed in Germany in 2018. These include asylum seekers, approved and rejected. The number increased by six percent compared to the previous year.

The number of foreign protection seekers in Germany rose last year by six percent to almost 1.8 million. It thus increased by 101,000 compared to the previous year, the Federal Statistical Office announced. The number covers all people who are registered in the Central Register of Foreigners (AZR) and who are based in Germany on humanitarian grounds. The increase was about the same as in the previous year.

The list included all persons in an ongoing or already legally completed asylum procedure, including rejected or expatriate migrants. According to the Wiesbaden Federal Office, their number increased by eight percent or 15,000 to around 192,000 compared to the previous year.

Of these, however, the vast majority of 81 percent was tolerated. This means that the deportation was suspended. Most of the rejected refugees came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia.

More seekers from Turkey and Iran

In total, around 1.3 million of all those seeking protection were recognized and thus entitled to stay in Germany for humanitarian reasons. That was eleven percent or 129,000 more than in 2017, most came from the war and crisis countries of Syria (526,000), Iraq (138,000) and Afghanistan (131,000). At 79 percent, the status for the vast majority of those seeking protection was limited in time.

According to the Central Register of Foreigners, the number of those seeking protection whose recognition procedures were still running declined by 43,000 to 306,000 between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018. Compared with the high level of open procedures that had built up after the major refugee movements at the end of 2016, it fell by 269,000. The reason is likely to be the processing of pending asylum procedures and the continued decline in the number of new asylum applications, the Federal Office said.

In 2018, however, the number of asylum seekers from Turkey rose against the trend. It increased by 40 percent from 10,000 to 14,000. The number of people seeking protection from Iran also increased by around 17 percent from 18,000 to 21,000.

Spahn travels to Kosovo to recruit nurses

In Germany, 3.4 million people depend on care, but there is a lack of specialist staff. Health Minister Spahn wants to change that with a trip to Kosovo.

The Federal Minister of Public Health, Andreas Westerfellhaus, welcomes the efforts of Minister of Health Jens Spahn (both CDU) and nurses from Kosovo. Spahn will travel there on Monday to sign an agreement to recruit nurses with his counterpart Uran Ismajli. Tens of thousands of nurses are missing in Germany, which is why Spahn wants to recruit young people abroad.

Westerfellhaus admitted that the nurses may not be present in Kosovo on Monday in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin” – but the nurses could gain “possibly qualifications for the future of Kosovo” in Germany.

Faster visa application required

Westerfellhaus called on the Federal Government to grant quicker visas for immigration-willing nurses. It was “unbearable that within the German embassies one does not throw everything to speed up the visa,” he said. The Foreign Ministry should also examine whether the visa allocation could not be shifted from the embassies to Germany.

Whether the nurses stay permanently in Germany, according to Westerfellhaus depends on whether the colleagues here receive them appreciative and work well. In addition, good language skills are crucial for successful integration.

3.4 million people in need of care in Germany

However, the recruitment of Eastern European nurses is only one part of the “Concerted Action” with which Spahn wants to solve the care problem in Germany. This also means making working conditions in nursing generally more attractive. For example, trained nurses who are no longer working in their profession could be motivated to return to their old profession.

Especially in Kosovo and Albania, there is a good potential of young professionals, he recently said. “Nursing education is often much better there than we think.”

According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 3.4 million people in Germany are in need of care. Due to the general aging of the society, their number will continue to rise – while the care industry is struggling with a shortage of junior staff.

Every second person sees Islam as a threat

According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, religion and democracy are not opposites. But it is problematic that there is a widespread aversion to Islam.

The vast majority of 89 percent of the population – across all religions – considers democracy in Germany a good form of government. This has resulted in a study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation based on the representative “Religion Monitor.” With religious tolerance, however, the study sees deficits. Especially, Islam has a hard time and is perceived negatively by many.

Immigration and globalization have increased religious diversity in Germany. Neither this plurality nor the degree of religiosity, according to the analysis, influence attitudes toward democracy. “Members of whatever religion can be good democrats,” said study author and religious sociologist Gert Pickel.

Half the population feels Islam is a threat

On the other hand, dogmatic, rigid beliefs and intolerance towards other religions are permanently detrimental to democracy. Here, the investigation gives cause for concern, because half of the interviewees feel Islam is a threat. In East Germany, where few Muslims live, the reservations are stronger than in the West. According to the survey, 30 percent in the East and 16 percent in the West do not want Muslims as neighbors.

Such demarcated, negative attitudes could jeopardize democratic political culture, warned Pickel. Nationwide, the number of Muslims is estimated at around five million, with 1.5 million of all federal states living in North Rhine-Westphalia.

3 percent are Islamophobic

However, the widespread Islam skepticism is not necessarily synonymous with Islamophobia, said foundation expert Yasemin El-Menouar in Gütersloh. However, this was definitely present in 13 percent of the population who wanted to stop the immigration of Muslims.

However, according to the study, democratic culture basically proves to be a stable foundation supported by the broad majority: among Christians, 93 percent, among Muslims 91 percent, among non-religious 83 percent, support democracy.

Does Germany have to pay reparations to Greece?

Greece demands from Germany reparations for the Second World War. So far, the federal government has blocked the demands. The legal situation is not clear.

A Bundestag report doubts the German rejection of Greek reparations claims for damages from the Second World War. “The position of the Federal Government is acceptable under international law, but by no means compulsory,” it says in a new progress report of the Scientific Services of Parliament, which was commissioned by the Left and the German Press Agency is present.

The Bundestag experts hint at a decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague to provide legal clarity. However, the Federal Government would have to voluntarily agree to such a procedure because the dispute was more than 70 years ago.

War damage of 290 billion euros

At the beginning of June, Greece had officially asked Germany for a diplomatic note on reparations negotiations. The government in Athens – at that time under the left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – had been invited to do so by parliament. A Greek expert commission has estimated the sum for the war damage caused by Germany at 290 billion euros.

For the Federal Government, however, the issue is legally and politically completed. She believes that the two-plus-four treaty on 1990 reunification “contains the final settlement of legal issues arising from the war.” In the contract between the Federal Republic, the GDR and the four former occupying powers USA, Soviet Union, France and Great Britain reparations are however not mentioned. Moreover, Greece was not involved in the negotiations on it.

Poland had declared resignation

The German refusal to pay further compensation also applies to Poland, which may soon claim as well. A Polish parliamentary commission wants to present its report by the end of the year. The ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) has repeatedly demanded compensation since 2017.

These demands, however, the Bundestag experts believe not justified. It says that “no valid legal lines of argument can be identified,” it says in its report. In contrast to Greece, in 1953 and then again in 1970, Poland expressly declared that they would refrain from reparations. From the Polish side, however, these statements are considered ineffective because they were made under pressure from the Soviet Union.

Unclear how new government behaves

From the point of view of the Bundestag reviewers, the Polish renunciation is still “binding under international law.” On the other hand, the Greek Government, in the context of the Two Plus Four Treaty, emphasized that it did not renounce reparations.

It is still unclear how the new conservative government of Greece under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is behaving on the reparations issue. In the election, the Conservatives had won the absolute majority of parliamentary seats. Mitsotakis is expected to make one of his first trips abroad to Germany.

Set the historical responsibility

A judicial clarification of the reparations question rejects the Federal Government. The Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Niels Annen (SPD), had declared at the end of June, at the request of the left: “A referral of the International Court of Justice (IGH) with the question of Greek reparations claims is not intended by any side.”

The left calls on the federal government to respond to Greek reparations demands. “The assessment of the scientific service shows that the federal government can no longer escape the historical responsibility,” said the deputy Heike Hänsel. “There can not be a final policy.”

So far, the government has “completely failed on this issue – legally, politically, but above all morally.”