World Bulletin/News Desk
Refugees from Syria's civil war drove a 61 percent annual increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Germany between January and May, interior ministry figures showed on Thursday.
The data showing a rise in asylum applications to 62,602 in the first five months of the year comes as authorities debate how to ease Germany's immigration burden.
The number of asylum seekers from Syria more than doubled to 10,046 in January-May from 4,035 in the same period last year. Other applicants' main countries of origin were Serbia, Afghanistan, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Eritrea, Russia, Somalia and Kosovo.
The trend shows no signs of abating, with the number of asylum applications rising 49 percent in May compared with the same month last year to 12,457.
Interior ministers from the German government and the federal states are consulting until Friday on how to deal with refugees from Syria, where anti-government protests in 2011 escalated into a civil war, and how to spread the cost of taking them in.
The German parliament is meanwhile debating a draft law proposed by the ruling coalition which would class Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia as safe countries of origin, meaning citizens of these western Balkan countries would no longer have the right to asylum.
Germany to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees
Meanwhile, the officials from Germany's states announced that they will receive 10,000 more Syrian refugees to their country after meeting in Bonn - double the number currently in the country.
Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday: "Germany wants to meet its humanitarian responsibility."
State Minister Peter Beuth said: "This shows that it is very important to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees."
But Günter Burkhardt, Chairman of relief organization Pro Asy, stated that Germany's decision to take 10,000 refugees was not enough.
Syrian refugees' health expenses are to be met by the states and other expenses will be covered by the federal government, according to the decision.
Last Mod: 13 Haziran 2014, 00:08