An intelligence report leaked to a German newspaper has claimed that more than six million asylum seekers are waiting to cross into Europe.
The secret report, published by Bild, suggests the true number of immigrants aspiring to reach the continent is 6.6 million – far greater than EU chiefs are prepared to admit.
Record numbers of Africans have already tried to make the journey across the Mediterranean this year, leading to more than 1,200 deaths already.
The report, which hasn’t been verified, says the number waiting to cross into Europe has risen by 650,000 since the end of January – up 12 per cent.
It claims one million refugees are living in Libya and about 3.3million of the total are currently in Turkey. Of these, nearly 3 million are Syrians. The other 310,000 are mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to UNICEF.
According to the report, another 1 million refugees are waiting in Egypt, with 430,000 in Algeria, 160,000 in Tunisia, and 50,000 in Morocco. Up to 720,000 people are waiting in Jordan.
In 2015, Germany alone absorbed about 1 million asylum seekers following an open door policy agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The policy has led to a variety of criticisms of Merkel – notably that accepting such large numbers was a mistake because it would encourage more people from Africa and the Middle East to follow in the belief that they, too, would be welcomed.