Number Of Migrants Claiming Benefits In Germany Surges By 169 Per Cent

(REUTERS) – The number of migrants claiming German welfare benefits soared by 169 percent last year, data showed on Monday, a figure likely to further boost anti-immigrant groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which performed well in a weekend election. Around 975,000 migrants were receiving benefits in accordance with the Act on Benefits for Asylum Seekers at the end of 2015, the Federal Statistics Office said. That marked the sixth consecutive yearly rise and compared with 363,000 in 2014. The leap followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision a year ago to open Germany’s door to refugees fleeing war in Syria and elsewhere. Germany took in more than one million people, though the inflow has fallen sharply in recent months due to tighter European border controls and a repatriation deal with Turkey. Monday’s data include migrants with temporary residence permits and those who cannot be deported for the time being. They do not include those with refugee status or those entitled to asylum, who receive social benefits if they need help. While many Germans gave migrants a warm welcome when they started arriving in droves last summer, that has partly given way to fear after three recent violent attacks on