Thomas de Maziere.jpg
Photograph: EPA/KLAUS-DIETMAR GABBERT

Many Afghans seeking asylum in Germany will be sent home, Germany Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Monday in Kabul, especially pointing to Afghan youth who are fleeing their country to seek better economic prospects.

More than 150,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Germany last year, the second-largest group of applicants behind Syrians, and up from just 9,700 Afghans who applied in 2014.

De Maiziere told dpa that smugglers were making money in Afghanistan by "spreading rumours of paradise-like conditions in Germany."

He said that many Afghan migrants are seeking economic prospects rather than refuge.

Afghans without the right to claim asylum as refugees should return to the areas of the country that are deemed safe, he said.

De Maiziere did not rule out the possibility of financial incentives for those wanting to rebuild their lives back in Afghanistan. Unsuccessful asylum seekers can also claim the costs of their return flights under current laws.

"Of course, the security situation in Afghanistan is complicated," the minister said. "But Afghanistan is a big country. There are unsafe and safe areas there."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured critics that the number of migrants and refugees entering the country will go down this year. In 2015, 1.1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany, putting a huge strain on local authorities as they struggle to register and accommodate the new arrivals.

In October 2015, de Maiziere indicated that the surge in Afghan refugees was unacceptable, pointing to aid contributions and efforts by German soldiers and police to improve security in Afghanistan.

Germany has launched a public awareness campaign in Afghanistan to encourage would-be asylum seekers to stay put.

Growing pressure on Merkel to toughen asylum laws has led to a series of new measures aimed at limiting the inflow of migration to Germany and speeding up deportations.

Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, told mass-circulation tabloid Bild on Sunday that an estimated 50,000 migrants have left Germany since the start of 2015 - some willingly, while others were ordered to leave.

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