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Germany petitions North African states to take more migrants back

Germany's interior minister is in North Africa to propose the speeding up of repatriation for rejected asylum applicants. The development of biometric identity papers is on the agenda.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is to visit Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia with the aim of convincing authorities to speed up the repatriation of rejected asylum applicants.

"Our goal is to make the procedures more efficient and faster," de Maiziere said ahead of his departure for Morocco on Sunday. He added that many applicants lacked travel documents or gave false names and other personal details. This made it more difficult to send migrants back to their countries of origin.

Biometric identity papers could help in speeding up repatriations, de Maiziere said. He added "we could imagine offering our support" in this area.

Deutschland Innenminister Thomas de Maizière

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

Germany has taken in more than a million refugees over the past year but is now trying to limit the number of new arrivals. There was a rise in the number of people arriving from North Africa at the end of 2015, but that figure fell in January to 1,600 from Morocco, 1,600 from Algeria and 170 from Tunisia, according to official figures.

Safe countries of origin

Legislators are considering a law to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia "safe" countries of origin. A similar designation for Balkan countries sharply reduced the number of people permitted in Germany from that region.

But human rights groups have opposed a "safe" designation for the three Maghreb countries. They point to discrimination against homosexuals and curbs on free speech and assembly.

De Maiziere rejected the criticism, saying that individual requests for protection would still be considered.

jm/gsw (AFP, dpa)

Watch video 03:32

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