Germany's refugee crisis manager called Saturday on the country's individual state governments to double the number of deportations of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected.
In 2015, some 37,220 asylum seekers had returned to their countries of origin voluntarily, while 22,200 failed asylum seekers were deported, Peter Altmaier told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
"It would be realistic to aim for a doubling of those figures in 2016," said Altmaier, who is Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff and was appointed to coordinate the country's response to the refugee crisis.
"It's up to the states," he added, implying that the issue was a regional matter rather than the responsibility of the federal government.
Germany's federal government has for some time insisted that failed asylum seekers be deported more quickly.
However, individual German states have been struggling to implement the necessary measures as they face problems both with the respective countries of origin and with legal issues.
For instance, some countries refuse to accept returned asylum seekers because they are missing the documentation required to be accepted as citizens.
Other asylum seekers cannot be deported if they face torture or the death penalty back home.
The majority of asylum seekers who have arrived in Germany in recent months are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Afghan government meanwhile has made progress on a draft deal between Germany and Afghanistan for the return of failed asylum seekers, which is due to be presented at the German Embassy in Kabul in the next few days, Minister for Refugees Said Hussain Alemi Balkhi told dpa.
Negotiations were due to follow soon, he said. However, Afghanistan would not accept deportations until the deal had been signed.
After the closure of the so-called Balkan route the number of new arrivals in Germany has markedly dropped, with only 20,608 asylum seekers being registered in Germany in March, compared to more than 60,000 in February and around 90,000 in January.