Germany Unable to House Hundreds of Thousands Refugees: Study

Germany does not have the capacity to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are expected to enter the country before the end of this year, according to a study by multinational firm Ernst & Young.

Local authorities in Germany only have the capacity to provide shelter for half a million people but, according to the study published on Monday, 870,000 refugees are expected to enter the country by 2015, meaning that 370,000 refugees are at risk of being without shelter.

German tabloid Bild reported in October that the number could rise to 1.5 million, though the German Interior Ministry could not confirm the figure.

On Monday German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned that the country could not take in an unlimited number of refugees. In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, Schaeuble said, "We need to send a clear message to the world: We are very much prepared to help, we've shown that we are, but our possibilities are also limited."

The study, which was put together over the month of October, found that out of 300 German municipalities, over three quarters (76 percent) said that their greatest challenge was finding shelter for refugees in the area. Two-thirds (62 percent) of local authorities were frustrated by the unclear numbers of expected arrivals.

While 73 percent of regional authorities are willing to accommodate refugees in existing residential properties in the future, the study found that only 185,000 refugees are currently housed in residential buildings. This number is expected to rise to 340,000 by the end of this year. An additional 100,000 refugees are placed in unused properties in former schools and barracks, and 60,000 refugees are currently housed in previously vacant dwellings.

Speaking about the housing situation to German news site The Local, the study's author Hans-Peter Busson said that many local authorities are improvising when it comes to finding solutions."There is no middle or long-term plan, mainly because it is so unclear how the number of refugees who arrive is going to develop," Busson said.

Forty percent of municipalities expect to spend up to $1.2 billion to house refugees, the study found. Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research said on Tuesday that Germany faces costs of over $22.5 billion, to house, feed and educate refugees.

Germany's Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Germany Unable to House Hundreds of Thousands Refugees: Study |