The German government is falling short of its goal to deport significantly more rejected asylum seekers, a newspaper report has found. Over 8,000 migrants have been sent back so far this year, compared to 25,000 in 2016.
Within the first four months of the year, the German government has deported a significantly lower number of migrants compared to last year, according to a German newspaper report on Saturday.
Citing information from Germany’s federal police, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported that by the end of April, a total of 8,620 rejected asylum-seekers had been sent back to their countries of origin. The figures indicated a marked stagnation compared to last year, which saw a total of 25,375 deportations.
This year has also seen fewer numbers of rejected asylum-seekers who voluntarily opted to return to their countries of origin. According to police figures, only 11,195 such voluntary return trips were approved during the first four months of the year.
In 2016, a total of 54,006 migrants took advantage of the volunteer return program in Germany, which covers certain costs including travel expenses.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a “national effort” last year to encourage rejected asylum-seekers to return to their home countries.
‘Lack of cooperation’ with some countries
After the recent drop-off in the number of refugee and migrant arrivals in Germany, Merkel and the premiers of Germany’s 16 states declared that only those whose applications were approved were allowed to stay while all others “should leave Germany.”
A spokeswoman with the German interior ministry told Welt am Sonntag that the reason for the lower repatriation figures is that an exceptional amount of people returned to their countries of origin last year.
“Repatriations and voluntary departures in 2016 took place to a particularly large extent in the west Balkan countries,” the speaker said.
Repatriations to other areas have proven to be much more difficult due to a “lack of cooperation” with other countries, the interior ministry said.
The state interior ministry of Hesse told the newspaper that deportations to northern African countries have failed in the past due to the fact that some of the rejected asylum-seekers do not have travel documents.
The deportation of rejected asylum-seekers from Germany has sparked several protests and political debates, particularly for those being sent back to Afghanistan. The German government had been sending Afghans back to supposed “safe” regions within their homeland.
Following this week’s deadly bombing in Kabul, Merkel announced on Thursday that Germany would be temporarily suspending all deportations to Afghanistan.