October 11, 2017 / 5:00 PM / 11 days ago

Germany registers fewer asylum seekers, on track for annual cap

BERLIN, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The number of asylum seekers registered in Germany fell in September and the annual total of new arrivals is unlikely to soar above the cap agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Bavarian allies last weekend, data showed on Wednesday.

Reaching a broader agreement on a migrant limit with other junior partners, mainly the left-leaning Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), is a key theme in efforts to forge a new German coalition.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) reached a deal on migrant policy with their Bavarian CSU allies on Sunday to put a net total of around 200,000 individuals who Germany would accept per year on humanitarian grounds.

Since the beginning of the year, a total of 139,635 people applied for asylum in Germany and the number of applicants in September fell by 10 percent on the month, data from the Federal Interior Ministry showed.

Germany saw an influx of 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015 and 280,000 in 2016.

Most asylum applicants that Germany has received this year so far come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the data showed. However, there was a surge of Turkish asylum seekers last month, making them the third-biggest group of applicants after Syrians and Iraqis that month.

Interior ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said the number of new asylum seekers had flattened out a bit but he could not make any forecasts for the coming months.

Friedrich Heckmann, an expert of immigration studies at the University of Bamberg, said the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany would probably be around the number Merkel and her conservative Bavarian allies agreed on last Sunday.

“This is some kind of back to normality because we had about 10,000 to 15,000 asylum applications (per month on average) in the last 10 years before the crisis,” Heckmann said.

In a sign that authorities are reducing the backlog of still open asylum cases, the figure of undecided cases at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) fell 82 percent in September compared to the same month last year to now 99,334.

Sixty thousand refugee family-reunion requests were approved in the first half of the year and the cases of 70,000 Syrian and Iraqi family members are waiting to be processed in German embassies, the Federal Foreign Office said on Wednesday. (Reporting By Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Michael Nienaber and Richard Balmforth)

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