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Germany reports more voluntary departure of refugees

28 December 2016 17:58

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More refugees have voluntarily left Germany this year compared to 2015, the German Interior Ministry says.

Spokesman Harald Neymanns said on Wednesday that 54,123 refugees whose asylum applications were rejected or could not be eligible had left Germany until December 27, showing “a considerable increase” of 20,000.

Neymanns said the increase “is welcome.”

“It’s always preferable when people leave the country voluntarily instead of being deported,” he added.

Reports said the German Finance Ministry was planning to increase funding to 150 million euros in 2017 to encourage more refugees to leave the country. Until now, those leaving voluntarily have been eligible to receive a one-off payment of 3,000 euros, which is granted to help the refugees find employment at home.

Local media said most of the refugees who have left Germany in 2016 returned to Albania, Serbia, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Germany has admitted more than 1.1 million people from an exodus that began to hit Europe in early 2015. More than 900,000 managed to arrive in the country last year, when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors to those fleeing war in the Middle East. However, the liberal policy proved to be problematic for the government over the time, as attacks on members of the public and other crimes involving refugees affected Merkel’s approval rating and led to more popularity for far-right nationalist parties.

An attack on a Christmas market last week by a Tunisian who had his asylum request rejected sparked fresh criticism. The attacker used a truck to ram into a crowd and kill 12 people. He was later shot dead by police in Italy.

Germany has rejected more than 40,000 asylum requests over the past two years. About 20,000 people have been turned away at borders in the same period.

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