Germany sees sharp fall in asylum seekers

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The number of asylum seekers entering Germany fell by about two thirds last year but the proportion of rejected applicants who left remained low, the government said Wednesday, raising fears that criminals or extremists may remain in the country.

The influx of migrants from war-torn or poor economic regions has raised security concerns, particularly after last year’s terror attacks in Germany. In December, rejected asylum seeker Anis Amri killed 12 and left scores wounded.

Government data showed that roughly 280,000 people entered Germany last year in search of asylum, down from a record of about 890,000 in 2015. But only 80,000 left Germany either voluntarily or were deported.

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“The development of the asylum figures show that the German government’s measures have an effect. We have succeeded in regulating, steering the number of people coming to us,” said Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. However, the number who left was too low, given the number of rejected asylum claims, he said. “We are in talks with the states to further increase the number of these returnees.”

The number of filed asylum claims, which lags behind the number of newly arrived migrants, rose to 745,545 in 2016 from 476,649 in 2015. The biggest group of applicants came from Syria, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and more than half received asylum or refugee status.

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