The large migrant influx to Germany in recent years has fuelled a rise in violent crime, according to the findings of a new government report.
Rejected asylum-seekers from countries considered safe were behind much of the rise, while genuine refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq were more rarely involved, the study found.
The report’s authors have called on Angela Merkel’s government to do more to return economic migrants posing as asylum-seekers to their own countries.
Violent crime rose by 10.4 per cent between 2014 and 2016 in Lower Saxony, the German state chosen for the study.
The rise coincides with Mrs Merkel’s 2015 decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees, and the study found asylum-seekers were responsible for more than 92 per cent of the increase.
But it found that those whose asylum claims had been refused by the authorities were disproportionately frequent offenders.
Asylum applications in Germany
People from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, who are routinely refused asylum in Germany as their home countries are considered safe, accounted for fewer than 1 per cent of asylum-seekers in Lower Saxony, but more than 17 per cent of violent crimes.
“It’s made clear to the North Africans from the outset that they have no chances here, that they must all go home,” Christian Pfeiffer, one of the report’s authors, told ZDF television.
“The war refugees are very quickly told they can stay. And then, of course, they try to do nothing wrong.”
Prof Pfeiffer, a criminologist and former regional interior minister of Lower Saxony, called on the government to spend more on sending rejected asylum-seekers home.
“It’s not enough just to say they should be deported. I think it’s time for a new perspective in refugee policy: namely to invest large amounts of money in a return program,” he said.
The report’s findings match high-profile cases like that of Anis Amri, the rejected Tunisian asylum-seeker who killed 12 people when he drove a lorry into a crowded Berlin Christmas market in 2016.
Rejected asylum-seekers are often allowed to remain in Germany in a semi-legal state. They are not allowed to work and have limited access to benefits.
While terror attacks dominate the headlines, they accounted for little of the rise in violent crime.
The report found most of the surge was caused by violence between migrants: 90 per cent of victims killed by asylum-seekers were themselves foreign nationals.
The fact most asylum-seekers are young males aged between 14 and 30 was a major factor in the violence, according to Prof Pfeiffer.
“Everywhere the lack of women has a negative effect. This increases the risk that young men conform to violent masculinity norms,” he said.
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For this reason, he argued, calls to allow family reunification for those granted asylum were “not stupid”.