German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sharpened her tone on the refugees seeking shelter in the European country, urging authorities to speed up the deportation of those denied asylum.
“The most important thing in the coming months is repatriation, repatriation and once more, repatriation,” Merkel told lawmakers of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) Party on Thursday.
The comments were an apparent U-turn from her open-door policy, which allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany last year.
Many refugees have so far been denied the rights of residency on the grounds that they would not be in danger if they returned to their own country.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday that this year, at least 100,000 refugees need to be deported. He said 21,000 refugees had been repatriated last year and 35,000 in the first seven months of this year.
Almost 1.1 million refugees, most of whom were fleeing war and violence in Iraq and Syria, arrived in Germany in 2015. Merkel had formerly pledged not to put quotas on the number of refugees entering her county.