Germany is paying asylum seekers to give up and go home. Voluntary returnees can apply for financial assistance until the end of February 2018. Individuals are eligible for up to €1,000 (and families can receive up to €3,000) in order to cover resettlement costs. If they ever return to Germany, however, then they must repay the money.

The scheme does not apply to several countries currently undergoing major political instability or conflict, including Syria, Yemen, and Libya (though, controversially, Afghanistan is covered by the policy). However, critics argue that, in effect, the German government is bribing the world’s most vulnerable to give up their right to asylum.

Germany is not the only country to deploy such a scheme. Sweden and Norway also offer financial incentives for people to return, arguing that the one-off payment is much cheaper than supporting a lengthy asylum process that might anyway end in rejection and deportation. So everyone can benefit, right?

What do you think? Our reader Pius is in favour. He argues that if the asylum seekers go back, then the money saved in Germany can be used to rebuild their home countries.

To get a reaction, we spoke to Karl Kopp from PRO ASYL, a German NGO and asylum advocacy organisation. How would he respond?

You have to give people seeking protection a fair asylum hearing, and this includes independent advice. You must let them know how their application will be judged and what to expect. If people want to go back home during the asylum procedure (but only during a fair asylum hearing) they have to be supported. But it should not be the case that money is offered merely in order to dispense with legal proceedings. This is at best problematic, and at worst completely cynical.

It always makes sense to support people, but this financial incentive to return home has nothing to do with that. 86% of all refugees in the world live in the immediate vicinity of their home countries. This must not be forgotten.

We also had a comment from Paulo, who says Germany should welcome asylum seekers who have needed professional qualifications, have arrived lawfully, and can provide for themselves. But do these factors play any role in German asylum law at all?

These factors play no role in asylum and refugee protection, and they are not allowed to do so. Even critically-ill and severely traumatised people have a right to protection and decent reception… Country’s are of course allowed to set their own immigration policy, and the state can set its own criteria for that. But asylum and refugee procedures have international criteria for determining whether someone is eligible for protection.

Should asylum seekers be paid to go home? Or such a policy morally wrong? Is it trying to entice vulnerable people to give up their fundamental rights? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Nicolas Nova

47 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I think illegitimate asylum seekers should be sent home mandatorily at their own expense and assets should be confiscated to pay for the cost of handling their fraud. The EU would have much less asylum abuse.

  2. avatar

    Why should the tax payer pay them to go home ? Make them pay for their own passage home or tell them to start walking, they managed it one way so they can do it in reverse.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I think this will benefit the taxpayer….. give them a couple of thousand Euros to clear off quickly instead of hanging around for months or years at the taxpayers expense…..makes financial sense to me

  3. avatar

    Asylum seekers that come from war, hunger and pain must be welcomed but their journeys have to planned, so they can have a safe passage and the chances they deserve to a better life. On the other hand clandestines must be sent back because holding them here doesn’t do any good to people who have the fair right to seek shelter.

  4. avatar

    If Europe would create a fair and safe access for asylum seekers already in africa for example (important: not as deterrence) we would have less problems with that. For the rest: the majority of people had good faith in applying for asylum. Just because they got denied, doesnt mean they are cheaters and should be criminalized.

    • avatar

      You’re not only an idiots but you’re also completely out of touch…
      You seems to easily forgotten your recent past….
      African migrants comprises the lowest number of migrants compared to migrants from the middle-east, Syria, Irag + Afghanistan & Pakistan…
      Vulneable Asylum seekers from African countries like south Sudan totally unsafe and deadly, Congo, Nigeria with terrorism, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Malie and so on…..these people deserve protection but they’re easily denied protection here and quickly facilitate there expulsion back to the dangerous place they escaped from, unlike those from Syria, Irag and so on who warmly welcome and quickly given protection..

    • avatar


  5. avatar

    No. Europe must use its political power to stop the wars that make the asylum seekers to here.

  6. avatar

    There already is ‘fair and safe access for asylum seekers’, the problem is the financial migrants do not use it & they are the major part of the problem.

  7. avatar

    So stupid this question? asylum seekers? are you sure that to whant to write asylium seekers?

    • avatar

      So stupid! This is, in fact, a crime against humanity. They plan to legalize these crimes, is that it?

    • avatar

      George: kill persons work? I’m sure. zero-tolerance is a fallacy.

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Hi Frederico. Yes, the German voluntary return scheme we discuss in the post (as well as similar schemes operated by the Swedish and Norwegian governments) specifically applies to asylum seekers.

    • avatar

      Frederico: Unfortunately zero-tolerance does exist, its goes by the names of Neo-Marxism, Socialism, Communism and National socialism.

  8. avatar

    When someone asks for asylum, their life is in danger. It is like asking “If you get money, is it ok to return home where you will probably get killed?” If E.U. has spare money (!) you can give it to build peaceful societies in and out of E.U.

    • avatar

      Only male between 20 to 30 are in danger in their country? What about the family?

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Surely if they are in real danger of being killed then no amount of money would make them return?
      This policy will work for Germany because it will weed out the economic migrants from the real asylum seekers…….the problem is they will take the cash then just head for another European country

  9. avatar

    I don’t care as long as the outcome is that they are leaving^^

  10. avatar

    No, they should work to stay on their own expence

  11. avatar
    Paul X

    Quote Karl Kopp “Country’s are of course allowed to set their own immigration policy”…

    ……….he clearly lives in a different EU to the rest of us

  12. avatar

    No, you should not let them in, only the real refugees should be here.

  13. avatar

    No but turned around quicker, and not given a passport for ten years but a visa to stay, then when the break the law, we will be able to kick them out…

  14. avatar

    No…. never…. they came carried by human traffic so they shall be forced to leave … the stupid politicians doesnt have money for us but for terrorists they have…. our money

  15. avatar

    A real asylum seeker won’t trade money for going to the “home” he wanted to escape ! An asylum seeker should have a residence and work permit from the state it entered and if they want to go back to whatever country they’re from, it’s their choice, so why give them money ?!

  16. avatar

    Europe forgets the foundamental principles on which -supposly- is based. We do not talk about illegal immigration but asylum seekers. THE ANSWER SHOULD BE OBVIOUS. Many european countries participate in the war in Syria therefore they adobt an extreemly xenophobic policy. We should do what democracy and the respect to the human rights demand and that s not to send people back to Syria to die.

  17. avatar

    Its cheaper to establish peace on their home countries / profitable to set the basis for prosperity

  18. avatar

    Those whose asylum application is rejected on technical grounds should receive payment. Other returnees – no

  19. avatar

    they need to paid a fine for having enter ilegaly and paid another fine for dammages made in europe befor been deported.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I don’t actually see anyone referring to refugees? ..the definitions differ but as far as an individual person goes they are generally one and the same… i.e they are a refugee when they leave their country and they become an asylum seeker when they try and settle in another country

      ……the real difference is between genuine refugees and illegal, economic immigrants who as soon as they set foot in Europe claim they are fleeing persecution and claim asylum..these are the ones most likely to accept a bribe to leave a country.

  20. avatar

        In the fall of 2017, on the very same square where Prime Minister Stefan Löfven proclaimed that Sweden does not build walls, a hundred Afghani asylum seekers staged a sit-in protest. The Swedish government had begun to deport those Afghanis who were considered to not have valid reasons for obtaining asylum. Many Swedes joined the protest, and just as in 2015 people showed up in support of an open asylum policy.

  21. avatar

    I prefer we quietly pay (cough cough bribe) their officials to take them back and to evem send their officers to escort them back home. Deportees love to attack European coos, they’l think twice before attacking some Afghan, Nigerian cops etc. as when that plane Lands their ass belongs to them.

  22. avatar

    You’re not only an idiots but you’re also completely out of touch…
    You seems to easily forgotten your recent past….
    African migrants comprises the lowest number of migrants compared to migrants from the middle-east, Syria, Irag + Afghanistan & Pakistan…
    Vulneable Asylum seekers from African countries like south Sudan totally unsafe and deadly, Congo, Nigeria with terrorism, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Malie and so on…..these people deserve protection but they’re easily denied protection here and quickly facilitate there expulsion back to the dangerous place they escaped from, unlike those from Syria, Irag and so on who warmly welcome and quickly given protection..

  23. avatar

    All Germans are not Nazist, so is better to unjustifiably demonizeing refugees or asylum Seekers in general.. Not every Asylum Seeker is a terrorist or criminal..
    Just like the way you have normal Germans who are not Nazist at all..

  24. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should asylum seekers be paid to go home?

    If politicians decide to pay so called asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees, to pretend they are going home, then same politicians must pay tor this charity out of their own salary and savings. The European tax payer did not vote for this burden to be added to their tax obligation. People who find their way to Europe for whatever reason must be prepared to pay their own way, or have some kind of philanthropist to pay for them. The European people have to first fund their own immediate kin, then the local upkeep of their infrastructure, the sick of their community, the homeless and so on.Their duty is to their own kin.

    I suggest the best these spend thrift arbitrators of our benevolence can do is, privatise immigration. Demand big, banks, multi national companies, the IMF the billionaire property owners who are looking for cheap labour, who have forced this weight onto our once civil population, it is they who must be ready to put their money where their mouth is.

    They must go to the land of the refugee and take up his cause from there. Pay for his fare to Europe, feed, clothe, house, educate, for the years it takes to get him into a fit state to be employable for the rich mentors who need him. Then once he is capable, put him to work, doing whatever it was he imported him for. When he is working, the refugee must pay his State, city and local taxes. On top of that, his wages must be docked to enable him to pay back the rich, banker, CEO, factory owner, land owner, department store owner, cleaning agency or whomever gave of his money to bring him to our shores.

    Should the refugee or other, be put in jail or commit crime, same rich man must be stripped of the cash needed for this person to have legal assistance, and the cost for his upkeep in jail. Yes, you are right, it will be thousands of Euros or pounds sterling, but, it is no more than our young trainee doctors, nurses, students and so on are expected to do. Some, never being able to pay off the dept they accrue. I have a friend who is a young doctor he is still paying off his massive loan on top of all his outgoing, mortgage, council tax, food, fares, clothes, upkeep of his home and child, wife cannot work. Why, if it is good for him to be slogging his guts out to survive, is it not suitable for those who enter our society through the back door? Why do you consider they are more equal than others? That they, like children, should be cared for out of our public money. Refugee policy has never been subject to public vote.

    Add to that, the cost of the breakdown in our society and culture from the massive changes to our way of life, created by the lawlessness and horrific practices many of these people bring into Europe with them. Changing forever an area or locale from peaceful to no go areas.The cost of this must be clawed back from the businesses that insist on their entrance. They must be held responsible for these people and look after them from their own funds. Not expect the tax payer to go without to do it for them.

    They should be sent back on arrival if these wealthy people didn’t/don’t want to fund their luxury workers from outside of Europe themselves. There are plenty here ready to hire.

  25. avatar

    Many “asylum seekers” are actually economic refugees. Since Europe has been voicing so loudly on human rights all over the world, EU cannot avoid giving reasonable amount of money for the deportation of refugees.

  26. avatar

    Giving money in one go can solve long term welfare expenses is a good method. However, EU might actually make itself an ATM for people of the poor countries.

  27. avatar

    If the asylum hearing process can be simplified to speed up the process, economic refugees can be deported more quickly. Social discontent can be reduced.

  28. avatar

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