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German states to spend around €17bn on refugees in 2016

Germany is the favoured destination for many of the thousands of refugees fleeing conflict.

FILE: Incoming refugees wait for a medical check after their arrival in front of the main train station in Munich, Germany in September 2015. Picture: AFP

BERLIN - Germany's federal states are planning to spend around €17 billion on dealing with the refugee crisis in 2016, newspaper Die Welt said on Tuesday, citing a survey it conducted among their finance ministries.

The sum, bigger than the €15.3 billion that the central government planned to allocate to its education and research ministry in 2015, is a measure of the strain that the influx is causing across the country as a whole.

Germany is the favoured destination for many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, partly due to the generous benefits that it offers.

The German states have repeatedly complained that they are struggling to cope, and Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy has caused tensions within her conservative camp.

Die Welt said that excluding the small city state of Bremen, which did not provide any details, current plans suggested the states' combined expenditure would be €16.5 billion.

The paper said actual costs would probably be even higher because the regional finance ministries had based their budgets on an estimate from the federal government that 800,000 refugees would come to Germany in 2015. In fact, 965,000 asylum seekers had already arrived by the end of November.