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Merkel Bolstered by Refugee Decline Ahead of Election Campaign

  • Arrivals in Germany decline about 70% to 280,000 in 2016
  • Balkan border closures, EU-Turkey deal blockaded main route
Books with the title 'first information for refugees' lie in a welcoming tent at a registration point for asylum seekers in Erding near Munich.

Books with the title 'first information for refugees' lie in a welcoming tent at a registration point for asylum seekers in Erding near Munich.

Photographer: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

Germany’s influx of asylum seekers fell by about two thirds in 2016, handing Chancellor Angela Merkel an election-year argument against critics of her open-borders policy.

An estimated 280,000 refugees entered Germany last year, compared with 890,000 in 2015, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters on Wednesday. After a large influx during the first three months, the flow slowed to fewer than 17,000 in December, according to government data. More than half came from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.