News 16 Jan 13

Serbia Tops Germany's Asylum Seekers List

The highest number of people who sought asylum in Germany in 2012 came from Serbia, recent German foreign ministry data show.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Data from the German Foreign Ministry show that 8,477 of the 64,539 people who requested asylum in Germany in 2012 came from Serbia, ranking the country first in the list of asylum seekers.

More than 90 percent of those who applied listed their ethnic background as Roma.

The 2012 figure represented an increase of almost 50 per cent compared to 2011, when 4,579 Serbian nationals sought asylum in Germany.

Macedonia came fifth in the table with 4,546 asylum requests, which represents an increase of more than 3,000 people compared to 2011. Some 83 per cent of these people also declared their ethnic origin as Roma.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was ranked ninth, followed by Kosovo, with 2,025 and 1,906 asylum seekers respectively.

However, a significant drop in the number of asylum seekers was noted in December compared to the months of October and November.

In December 2009, the European Union lifted visa requirements on Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, allowing their citizens to travel freely into the EU's so-called Schengen zone.

Since then, Serbia and Macedonia have received complaints about mass arrivals of asylum-seekers, mainly ethnic Albanians and Roma, filing applications in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and other European countries.

The EU has warned Balkan countries that if they don’t lower the number of asylum seekers, visas may have to be re-introduced.

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