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Ethnic Germans from Russia in Cloppenburg. The number of German citizens and ethnic Germans returning to their country rose to 167,000 / Photo: Screenshot/NDR

Germany: Net migration drops to less than half a million in 2017

Germany’s statistics office has published new figures for net migration to the country in 2017 with some surprise findings. The figures show more Germans are returning to the country and staying put.

In 2017, net migration to Germany dropped by around one-fifth year-on-year to about 416,000, the Federal Office for Statistics (Destatis) said on Monday.

The agency noted that net migration from Asia and Africa had decreased, in line with a downward trend seen in 2016.

Migrants arriving from Syria dropped from 146,000 in 2016 to 60,000 in 2017. One of the largest decreases was also seen in migrants arriving from Afghanistan. That figure dropped from 56,000 in 2016 to 4,000.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015 famously welcomed refugees to Germany who had fled wars in their homeland, especially those coming from Syria. That year, nearly 900,000 irregular migrants entered the country in what would be dubbed a migration crisis.

More Germans in Germany

The number of German citizens and ethnic Germans returning to their country rose to 167,000, up from 146,000 in 2016.

Germany’s Basic Law — the constitution established after World War II — specifically allowed for ethnic Germans living outside modern German territory, for instance in former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, to return.

Meanwhile, the number of Germans leaving the country was 249,000, down from 281,000 in 2016. As such, net ethnic German migration was negative 82,000 people.

Europeans on the rise

The largest group surplus comprised citizens of other EU countries, with 239,000 moving to Germany to reside. The top countries of origin were Romania, Poland and Croatia, respectively.

The number of migrants coming from Balkan states also surged in 2017, with Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia making up the largest groups.

In total, 1,551,000 took residence in Germany while 1,135,000 people left the country — so, net, 416,000 moved to Germany. Net migration figures discount short-stay visitors.

In 2016, net migration amounted to some 500,000, while in 2015 — the year when the bulk of asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa arrived in Germany — it spiked at 1,140,000.

© DW

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