November 24, 2015 / 6:00 PM / 4 years ago

Germany to start deporting asylum seekers to western Balkans

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will this week start deporting asylum seekers from the western Balkans whose applications have been unsuccessful, government sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is under growing pressure from her own conservatives for allowing hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, most of them refugees from Syria or Iraq, to enter Germany with few if any checks, overwhelming local authorities.

To help ease the crisis, her government has repeatedly said it wants to speed up both the processing of asylum applications and the deportation of failed applicants.

The government sources said Berlin had reached an agreement with Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro to allow it to repatriate asylum seekers whose identification papers had expired or been destroyed.

Many asylum seekers destroy their passports upon arrival in their destination country, one of the reasons why Germany has been able to deport only about 30 percent of rejected asylum seekers.

In September, Germany declared Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro “safe”, meaning that their citizens, like those of neighboring Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia, would automatically be ineligible for asylum.

Germany has identified some 150,000 asylum seekers from the region whom it wants to deport, and Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro have now agreed to recognize Germany’s identification procedure and its temporary travel document, or “laissez-passer”.

The government also wants to be able to deport applicants from Pakistan and several African countries using this document.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Thorsten Severin; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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