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N’African states urged to accept more migrants

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MIGRANTSGERMANY wants North African countries to speed up repatriations of rejected asylum seekers, its interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said ahead of a visit yesterday to the region.

Thomas de Maiziere, who is to visit Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, said many applicants lacked travel documents or gave false names and other personal details, making it more difficult to send them back to their countries of origin.

Modern technology such as biometric identity papers could help, he told AFP, adding that “we could imagine offering our support” in the area.

“Our goal is to make the procedures more efficient and faster,” he said in written responses to AFP questions ahead of his departure for Morocco later yesterday.

After taking in more than one million asylum seekers last year, Germany is trying to reduce arrivals, including with a law to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia safe countries of origin.

A similar designation adopted for several Balkans countries raised the bar for asylum applications and sharply reduced the influx from the region of what Germany considers “economic refugees”.

Arrivals from North Africa jumped in late 2015 but in January dropped off to 1,600 each from Morocco and Algeria and 170 Tunisians, according to government data.

Human rights groups have opposed a “safe” designation for the three Maghreb countries under a law awaiting upper house approval, pointing to discrimination against homosexuals and curbs on free speech and assembly.

De Maiziere rejected the criticism, saying that although designated safe countries are assumed to not systematically persecute their citizens, individual requests for protection would still be considered.



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