January 11, 2016 / 10:26 PM / in 4 years

Iraqi embassy in Berlin issues 1,400 passports for migrants to return

A migrant enters a tent that serves as a waiting room at the the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGESO), in Berlin, Germany, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Iraqi embassy in Berlin has issued 1,400 passports recently for Iraqi migrants who want to return to their home country, the German foreign ministry said on Monday.

A ministry official told Reuters only 150 passports had been issued here by the end of last October and did not give any reason for the sharp increase since then.

Separately, a ministry source said the increase could be related to recent developments in the conflict in Iraq.

Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism forces pushed Islamic State fighters to the suburbs of the city of Ramadi last month in what has been touted as the first major success for Iraq’s army since it collapsed during the militant Islamists’ lightning advance across the country’s north and west 18 months ago.

Iraq was the fifth most important country of origin for asylum applications in Germany in 2015, data from the Interior Ministry shows.

In recent weeks, the German government has urged authorities from migrants’ and refugees’ countries of origin to provide passports for people willing to return.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said German development aid for countries should be dependent on whether governments are prepared to take back citizens who do not have any prospects of being able to stay in Germany.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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