Germany revises down 2015 refugee arrivals to 890,000

Germany has revised down the number of asylum seekers it took in last year from 1.1 million to 890,000, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Friday.

He also reported a sharp drop so far this year to 210,000 people seeking safe haven in the biggest EU economy as of last week.

De Maiziere cited new centralised figures that are more precise than previous anonymised first-registration data, which did not allow for people being counted multiple times or for those who had since left Germany.

The minister said of the 890,000 arrivals last year -- equivalent to over one percent of the national population -- that "the number is still very high".

"It was through enormous efforts ... that we mastered this challenge well overall," he said about the mass influx of people fleeing war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as poverty and conflict elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa.

"At the same time we all agree that the situation from last autumn must not be repeated," he added.

"That's why we have adopted numerous measures -- internationally, in Europe and in Germany -- to clearly and sustainably reduce the number of asylum seekers coming to Germany, while meeting our humanitarian responsibilities."

The mass influx stopped after several Balkans transit countries shuttered their borders and the EU reached a deal with Turkey to stop the influx to the Greek islands in return for financial aid and eased visa conditions for its citizens.

Berlin has also declared some states in the western Balkans and north Africa "safe countries of origin", making it harder for their citizens to obtain refugee status in Germany, and sought deals to speed up deportations of those refused asylum.

De Maiziere said the vastly reduced number for this year "shows that the measures we have taken are working".

Source: National News Agency