BERLIN, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Significantly fewer rejected asylum seekers voluntarily departed Germany in the first quarter of 2017, data showed on Thursday.
In the period between January and March 2017, 8,468 people used the national support program to return to their country of origin compared to 13,848 over the same period in 2016. Rejected asylum seekers participating in the program receive up to 1,000 euros (1,085 U.S. dollars) as "start-up support".
In 2016, 54,006 rejected asylum seekers returned to their home countries aided by the humanitarian support program compared with 35,514 in 2015. By contrast, around 25,000 rejected asylum seekers were deported in 2016. Most returnees originate from Albania, Serbia, Iraq, Macedonia and Kosovo.
Parliamentary State Secretary Ole Schroeder presented the numbers Thursday in Berlin during the opening of a web portal that provides information to asylum seekers who wish to return.
The website returningfromgermany.com bundles relevant information concerning support and proceedings in multiple languages. It was designed by the International Organization for Migration and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Deportations and voluntary departures always go hand in hand. Without the threat of deportation of rejected asylum seekers there is no incentive for a voluntary departure, according to Schroeder.
"A voluntary return is always preferable," said Schroeder, who commended the online-project.
The German government aims to facilitate the return of rejected asylum seekers, as a consequence of the high flow of refugees since 2015. The support of voluntary departure is a means to follow that goal in addition to deportation.