Almost 55,000 migrants who were refused – or were not eligible – for asylum left Germany willingly between January and November 2016, up by 20,000 from the total number who left voluntarily in 2015, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Germany had tough stance on immigration in the past period triggered by worries about security and integration after admitting more than 1.1 million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere since early 2015.
Last week a failed asylum seeker who had sworn allegiance to the ISIS militant group killed 12 people when he attacked a Christmas market in Berlin with a truck, stimulating increasing criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted government data showing the number who returned to their homes in the first 11 months of the year. Most returned to Albania, Serbia, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran, according to the newspaper.
Those leaving are eligible for one-off support of up to 3,000 euros.
The number of refugees turned away at the borders has also increased; a report by the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily said police had turned back 19,720 refugees through the first 11 months — up from 8,913 in all of 2015.
They had been registered in other EU countries, where most were from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.
Merkel has said it is vital to focus resources on those fleeing war, and to keep public support by deporting foreigners to countries where there is no persecution.
Late on Tuesday, seven refugees from Syria and Iraq aged 15 to 21 were detained in Berlin on charges of attempted murder for trying to set fire to a homeless man in an underground station.