A shortage in accommodation across Germany is pushing some local authorities to set up temporary housing for migrants in school gymnasiums or industrial parks. Some officials have also called on the government to limit the influx of migrants.
Germany is struggling to accommodate its refugees and must find new solutions, local authorities have warned.
"Many cities and municipalities have long been at their performance limits when it comes to accommodating refugees and displaced persons," the German Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Tuesday (January 24), quoting Gerd Landsberg, the chief executive of the Association of Cities and Municipalities.
In some areas, hotel rooms are being rented for migrants and emergency accommodation is being set up in school gymnasiums or even emptied buildings in industrial areas, according to Landsberg.
Municipalities in the central German state of Thuringia for example, say they hardly have any housing left to accommodate refugees from Ukraine.
More than 980,000 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Germany since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to Germany's interior ministry.
Accommodation shortage 'top priority'
Landsberg called on the federal government to declare the refugee accommodation shortage a "top priority."
German District Association President Reinhard Sager said that a crisis meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz is long overdue, French news agency AFP reported. Sager said he is in favor of limiting the influx of migrants in Germany.
"The federal government must immediately limit the influx that continues to take place, Europe's external borders must be protected and repatriations within the EU must be significantly stepped up," he said, referring to immigration from Afghanistan and Syria in particular.
In addition, some German states are struggling to offer migrant children a place in school. At least three states weren't able to accommodate all students yet, a survey by the epd news agency revealed.
European cities battle housing shortages
According to figures from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Germany registered 244,000 asylum applications in 2022 – marking a 28% increase from the previous year.
The top three country of origin of the applicants were Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey (Ukrainians do not have to apply for asylum in Germany).
German states are not alone in seeing a shortage in migrant accommodation. Many European cities are currently facing a housing shortage, forcing refugees into temporary accommodation which could be ill-equipped for long-term stays.
With AFP and EPD