23:35 GMT +311 December 2018
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    View of the Berlin skyline seen from Potsdamer Platz to Alexanderplatz, including the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral (R), the Berlin palace under construction and the city's town hall (Rotes Rathaus, R)

    German Campaign Encouraging Migrants to Go Home ‘Now’ Triggers Online Debates

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    The German authorities promise to pay those who report about their plans to re-patriate by December 31 a year’s worth in housing rent. The country’s Interior Ministry has promoted the program, which is designed to stimulate migrants’ return to their home countries, with a series of billboards in several languages, including Russian and English.

    Billboards reading Your country. Your Future. Now! with a line of foreign flags has sparked dismay among netizens in Germany, questioning the targeted audience.

    The campaign by the Interior Ministry advertises voluntary return to homeland among the migrant community. It proposes a new option by promising asylum seekers the equivalent of 12-months housing allowance to return to their country if they file the application before the New Year (the maximum compensation payment equals 3,000 euros). The campaign billboards address people in a variety of languages, including English, French, Arabic, Russian.

    The billboards raised questions among netizens, who criticized the message and its design.

    READ MORE: Thousands Protest in Germany Following Suspected Gang Rape by Migrants (VIDEO)

    The choice of languages of the program also raised eyebrows, as it does not specify the target group among the Russian speakers, who live in Germany. They are mostly represented by so-called Spätaussiedler, who are descendant from the republics of the former Soviet Union with German or Jewish roots. These groups, who came mostly in the 1990s, are generally considered well integrated.

    "Добровольное возвращение" sounds really passive-aggressive.

    Some were puzzled why the Russian flag was printed in the beginning of a long line of state banners.

    "Advertising in subway. Not Arabic, Suahili or Urdu — Russian. Refugees who speak Russian are Jews from the former USSR and a few thousand Chechen refugees who fled either from the war or Kadyrov. Is this new politics and new tolerance?" one user posted.

    According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), more than 124,000 people applied for asylum from January until September 2018. Most of them are from Syria (nearly 34,000). The second largest group is Iraqi refugees (12,500). Applications from Nigerians exceed 8,000. The number of applications from Russian citizens totals 2.5% (3,000).

    READ MORE: Almost 600 German Police Officers Raid Squat in Berlin

    For several years, the German authorities have offered different types of assistance to migrants who would like to voluntarily return to their country of origin. Persons whose asylum procedure has not been completed yet may count on 1,200 euros. Applicants, whose asylum application has been rejected in Germany, may receive 800 euros if they leave without filing a revision. These measures are designed to cut budget spending as each case of forced deportation costs Germany over 1,500 euros.

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    Tags:
    Migrants, Migrant Crisis, German Interior Ministry, Germany, EU
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