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Germany registers 965,000 asylum seekers in 2015

The number of people registered as asylum-seekers in Germany this year hit 965,000 by the end of November.

The figure is well above a forecast for the whole year that was made less than four months ago, the country's interior minister said.

Some 206,000 new arrivals were registered in November. That pushed the total for 2015 well above the 800,000 that Thomas de Maiziere forecast for the full year in mid-August, a few weeks before the flow of people arriving via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans accelerated.

With few other European countries prepared to share the burden, the influx has stretched Germany's capacity to find housing for migrants and process asylum applications.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, which the government is beefing up amid mounting criticism of a backlog of paperwork, decided on 35,422 applications last month.

Mr de Maiziere said that the pace of new arrivals has slowed over the past week or two, with some 2,000-3,000 now arriving daily rather than 8,000-10,000 as was often the case in recent months.

"This isn't yet a turnaround, but it is a good development," with poor weather in the Mediterranean Sea and efforts by Turkey to stop people making the crossing to Greece apparently contributing, he said.

Mr de Maiziere said that the actual number of new arrivals this year is below 965,000, but that authorities have not yet been able to determine how many newcomers might have been registered more than once, and how many had been registered in Germany but then carried on to another country.

The minister said he would not make a new full-year forecast. He has refused to update his prediction since the influx gathered pace in September, saying that to do so could be misunderstood as an invitation for still more migrants to come.

The refugee authority should be able to get through the backlog of asylum applications in next year's second quarter, Mr de Maiziere added.

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