ALGIERS (Reuters) - Germany and Algeria want to find ways to speed up the repatriation of Algerians living illegally in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday during a visit to Algeria.
Since around 1 million asylum seekers reached Germany in 2015, Merkel's government has been pushing for ways to speed up the process of sending home those whose applications are denied.
The issue drew particular attention in relation to North Africa when Anis Amri, a Tunisian, killed 12 people in a Berlin Christmas market attack in December 2016. Amri's deportation had been delayed because he had no valid passport, a source of frustration for German officials dealing with the Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan embassies.
"We talked about how to make more efficient that those who have no right to stay will be returned," Merkel said during her one-day visit when asked about the deportations of Algerians.
She gave no further details.
Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia said his government was willing to solve as soon as possible the cases of Algerians eligible for deportation, provided their identities are established. German authorities say nearly 3,700 Algerians are eligible for deportation.
"Algeria takes back its children," he said, adding that new digital technology would make identification easier.
German media reported that the number of Algerian failed asylum applicants deported from Germany has risen to 504 in 2017 from 57 in 2015.
Germany wants to declare Algeria, like Tunisia and Morocco, a safe country of origin, which would make it easier to deport asylum seekers from there. Less than 2 percent of Algerian asylum applicants in Germany receive protect status.
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi and Ulf Laessing; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Additional reporting by Riham Alkoussi in Berlin)