Germany expects sharp drop in refugees numbers this year

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top migration official predicts that fewer than 300,000 refugees will come to the country this year, a sharp drop compared with the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

Frank-Juergen Weise, the head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, said in an interview in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag he expects between 250,000 and 300,000 new arrivals in 2016.

Germany saw an unprecedented influx of asylum-seekers last year, due in part to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow migrants stuck in other European countries to come to Germany.

Officials have spoken of more than a million arrivals in 2015, but Weise said the actual figure was likely lower once duplicate registrations and people who traveled on to other countries are excluded.

Anti-migrant feeling has increased strongly in Germany over the past year, resulting in growing support for a nationalist party to the right of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and a fall in popularity for the chancellor, who has stuck by her motto “we will manage.”

A poll published Sunday by Bild am Sonntag found that 50 percent of respondents opposed a fourth term for Merkel, should she decide to run again in 2017. The survey of 501 voters, conducted Aug. 25 by the research firm TNS Emnid, had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.


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