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German government reckons on 3.6 million refugees by 2020: report

The German government is expecting an average of half a million refugees to arrive in the country every year for the next five years, a newspaper report says. More than a million have already been taken in.

The figure of 3.6 million was calculated on the basis that 2.5 million more refugees would arrive in Germany from 2016 to 2020 in addition to the 1.1 million that came to the country in 2015, the daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" wrote in its report on Thursday. It said it was citing internal prognoses drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

The ministry told the paper that it had made a "purely technical" estimate of how many refugees would come as part of the basis for its predictions for economic development. It said the estimate had been made in consultation with other government ministries.

However, it warned that it was not currently possible to make any reliably founded prediction of refugee numbers and that the government did not want to issue any official prognosis for this reason.

Financial aid to Afghan returnees

Another German paper reported on Thursday that Afghan asylum-seekers who were

recently flown back to their home country

had received 700 euros ($771) in financial support.

The money for the Afghans, who returned home voluntarily, consisted of 200 euros for travel costs and 500 euros to help them re-establish themselves, according to the report in the "Bild" newspaper.

Germany has recently experienced a steep rise in the number of people coming to the country from Afghanistan to apply for asylum. Most Afghans are not eligible for asylum status in Germany, with the government arguing that people driven from their homes by the radical Islamist Taliban can find safe refuge within Afghanistan itself.

Efforts to resolve the refugee crisis

The German parliament, or Bundestag, was to vote on Thursday on a

package of proposed asylum laws

that would make it easier and quicker to process migrants who have little chance of receiving asylum, and to deport sick people. The package would also put in place restrictions on family reunification.

The proposed measures have met with

strong criticism from some opposition members.

Also, on Thursday, EU interior ministers were to meet in Brussels to discuss a coordinated approach to the refugee crisis. Deputy Turkish Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk will attend part of the talks, reflecting

Turkey's key role

in finding a resolution to the current situation, which has seen millions of refugees and migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, flee from conflict and poverty in their home countries to Europe.

Turkey has taken in some 2 million refugees in recent years, most of them fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria.

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tj/jil (dpa, AFP, epd, Reuters)

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