March 26, 2018 / 12:55 PM / in 7 months

Germany struggles with rising number of rejected asylum seekers without papers

BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of failed asylum seekers who could not be repatriated from Germany because they lack valid documents jumped 71 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, the interior ministry said on Monday.

Around 65,000 failed asylum seekers were granted temporary permission to stay in the country in 2017 because they could not be repatriated due to their lack of identity papers, a ministry spokesman said, up from 38,000 in 2016.

Germany has been trying to speed up such repatriations since Anis Amri, a Tunisian awaiting deportation, killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016. Amri’s deportation had been delayed because he had no valid passport.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to welcome more than a million migrants has provoked a popular backlash and increased support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Migration policy was one of the most disputed issues for Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats in renewing their coalition this month.

The number of people who applied for asylum fell in 2017, however, coming in well below the maximum 220,000 agreed on by the coalition parties.

The largest numbers of failed applicants who could not be repatriated because they had no papers were from India (5,743), Pakistan (4,943), Afghanistan (3,915) and Russia (3,828), publishing group Funke Mediengruppe reported, citing an interior ministry internal report.

The nationalities of nearly 3,800 applicants were registered as “unclear”, including people such as Palestinians and Kurds who did not have a country to which they could be deported, the report said.

Cooperation between German authorities and the embassies of the countries of origin of failed applicants, to issue substitute passports, was going poorly in many cases, the report said.

Earlier this month, Europe’s top migration official, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said the European Union wanted to tighten visa requirements for applicants from countries that were not cooperating enough on migrant deportations.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Andrew Roche

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