Ger­many’s im­mi­grant num­ber hits new high

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The num­ber of peo­ple in Ger­many with im­mi­grant roots rose 8.5 per­cent last year to a record 18.6 mil­lion, pow­ered by the in­flux of refugees and other mi­grants up to the spring of 2016, of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics showed yes­ter­day. The Fed­eral Sta­tis­ti­cal Of­fice said peo­ple with an im­mi­grant back­ground - de­fined as those who ei­ther weren’t born as Ger­man cit­i­zens or have at least one par­ent who wasn’t - made up 22.5 per­cent of the coun­try’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 82.4 mil­lion in 2016.

The fig­ure was the fifth an­nual record in a row and the year-on-year rise the strong­est since the mea­sure­ment be­gan in 2005, the of­fice said. Ger­many saw a large in­flux of mi­grants from the Mid­dle East and else­where in 2015 and early 2016. That hurt Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s pop­u­lar­ity for a time and boosted the four-year-old na­tion­al­ist Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party.

Mi­gra­tion has since de­clined as a po­lit­i­cal is­sue though Merkel’s cen­ter-left chal­lenger, Martin Schulz, has sought lately to high­light the risks of a new refugee cri­sis. Polls in­di­cate that Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives, and her per­sonal pop­u­lar­ity, have re­cov­ered ahead of a Sept. 24 elec­tion in which she is seek­ing a fourth term, and show Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many - which also has suf­fered from in­fight­ing - some dis­tance short of the lev­els it was reach­ing last year.

The sta­tis­tics of­fice said that 52 per­cent of peo­ple with an im­mi­grant back­ground are Ger­man na­tion­als. Of those, 42 per­cent were born as Ger­mans. Euro­pean coun­tries still ac­count for the ori­gins of the largest num­ber of im­mi­grants in Ger­many, the sta­tis­ti­cal of­fice said, though other ar­eas have grown in im­por­tance over the past five years. Some 2.3 mil­lion peo­ple in Ger­many have roots in the Mid­dle East, around 51 per­cent more than in 2011. And 740,000 have roots in Africa, an in­crease of 46 per­cent. — AP

BER­LIN: In this July 5, 2016 file photo Mus­lims at­tend the morn­ing prayer on the first day of the Is­lamic hol­i­day of Eid Al-Fitr, cel­e­brat­ing the end of the fast­ing month of Ra­madan at a mosque in the Arab im­mi­grant neigh­bor­hood of Neukoelln. —AP

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