The number of asylum seekers in Germany, relying on state support, fell to around 411,000 at the end of 2018, down 12 per cent on the figure at the end of 2017, an official said.

This is according to the Federal Statistical Office reported on Monday.

The figure fell for the third year in a row, after hitting a peak at the end of 2015 of some 975,000.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa, crossed into Germany in 2015.

Estimates of the total number coming in mainly through the Balkans reached one million.

Breaking down the figures, the office said that 220,000, or 53 per cent, originated from Asia, including 63,000 from Afghanistan, 43,000 from Iraq and 23,000 from Syria.

There were 96,000 benefit recipients from Africa, equivalent to 23 per cent of the total.

Some 83,000 or 20 per cent came from other European countries.

Foreign nationals, who are in fact resident in Germany and are in possession of an official temporary residence permit, are entitled to benefits.

Foreign nationals, who have been accorded official refugee status are not entitled to benefits under the asylum seeker legislation and are not included in these statistics.

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