Germany revises down 2015 refugee intake, arrivals slow

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany took in fewer refugees last year than previously thought and the number of asylum seekers dropped sharply this year, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.

De Maiziere told a news conference 890,000 asylum seekers came to Germany in 2015 and 820,000 of them were now fully registered.

He said Germany took in fewer than the reported 1.1 million migrants last year because some registered twice and others had moved on to other destinations.

“But I want to leave no doubt: The number of 890,000 is still very high,” De Maiziere said. “We all agree that the refugee situation last autumn must not be repeated.”

So far this year, 210,000 people came to Germany to seek asylum, he said. “This shows that our measures are working.”

The latest figures could take some pressure off Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is facing a popular backlash over her decision a year ago to leave German borders open for refugees.

Merkel has repeatedly defended her approach to find a European solution to the migration issue by securing the continent’s external borders, agreeing migration deals with countries such as Turkey and distributing refugees across Europe.

However, after her conservatives suffered heavy defeats in regional elections earlier this month, Merkel said she wished she could turn back the clock to better prepare Germany for last year’s migrant influx.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Janet Lawrence