BERLIN (Reuters) - A record 104,460 asylum seekers arrived in Germany last month, a Bavarian official said on Wednesday, part of an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants straining the resources of German towns and villages.
Germany, with relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, is the EU’s biggest recipient of people fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe.
From January to August, around 413,535 people registered on Germany’s Easy system, said a spokesman for Bavaria’s Social Minister Emilia Mueller.
The Easy system is used for the initial registration of migrants and refugees arriving in Germany. Applying for asylum is a separate procedure.
Around one third of registrations in August were in Bavaria, the spokesman said.
Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War Two and has yet to find a common response. Thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have died making the perilous journeys by land and sea.
Germany expects about 800,000 people to file for asylum in Germany this year, four times last year’s level.
Towns have been overwhelmed with the new arrivals and want more money to house and care for them. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a fair distribution of asylum seekers within the EU and has also warned against racism after almost daily attacks on shelters.
On Tuesday evening, 40 people suffered minor injuries after a man burst into a refugee shelter in the eastern town of Massow with an irritant spray which caused breathing problems, said police. It was unclear if the attack was racially motivated.
In an interview with Die Zeit newspaper, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said integrating new refugees could be more difficult than previous groups of migrants as up to 20 percent of them might be illiterate and could struggle to find work.
“Now we will receive hundreds of thousands of Arab Muslims and that is, according to everything my French colleague says, a significant difference in terms of integration,” Die Zeit quoted de Maiziere as saying.
Germany is home to some 4 million Muslims, mostly with Turkish backgrounds. Germany has long struggled to integrate its Turkish population, some of whom live in parallel communities where Turkish is the main language.
Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky