Merkel’s Government Says It’s Turning Corner on Refugee Crisis

  • Processed applications outpace new arrivals for first time
  • Interior minister says country getting influx under control

The number of refugees arriving in Germany plummeted in the first nine months of the year as authorities began to get a grip on the backlog of asylum applications.

About 213,000 asylum seekers entered the country through September, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in Berlin on Wednesday. For the first time since the crisis began, the number of processed applications last month outpaced arrivals of new refugees, he said. More than one million asylum seekers have entered the country since the beginning of 2015.

“This is a turning point,” de Maiziere told reporters.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has struggled with the biggest influx of asylum seekers since World War II. The uncontrolled flow of migrants last year has been stanched as nations in southeastern Europe shut their borders and the European Union benefits from an accord with Turkey to halt arrivals over the Aegean Sea. The inflow has raised anxieties among the German public, creating political problems for Merkel as she considers running for a fourth term amid rising popularity for an anti-immigration party.

The ministry said 657,855 refugees applied for asylum in the first nine months, including those who arrived in the country before 2016. About 38 percent of those were Syrians fleeing the civil war, followed by Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers.