Europe News

Up to 300,000 refugees to come to Germany this year: migration office head

BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) told a German newspaper that he expected a maximum of 300,000 refugees to arrive in Germany this year.

A migrant boy with a shirt that reads "Germany" plays with others in a childrens room at a refugee shelter which focuses on women and families, in Berlin, Germany March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos

“We’re preparing for 250,000 to 300,000 refugees this year,” BAMF head Frank-Juergen Weise told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in comments due to be published on Sunday.

Germans tend to use the word “refugee” to refer to both refugees and migrants who are seeking protection but do not have refugee status.

Weise added that if more people were to come than estimated, his office would come under pressure but suggested he was not worried about such a scenario, saying it was instead likely that fewer than 300,000 would come this year.

Weise said Germany took in fewer migrants in 2015 than previously thought because some were registered twice and others had moved on to other destinations.

“We’ll present the exact number soon but it’s certain that less than one million people came to Germany last year,” he said.

It had widely been believed that 1.1 million migrants entered Europe’s biggest economy in 2015 after fleeing war and poverty in their home countries.

Weise said it would take a long time and a lot of money to integrate the newcomers into the labor market.

He said 70 percent of the migrants who had already arrived were fit for employment but added that the majority of them would be dependent on basic social security provision before they manage to get jobs.

He estimated that around 10 percent of the new arrivals had university degrees while around 40 percent do not have formal vocational training but do have practical work experience, he said.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Bernard Orr