The ministry, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer, decided to lure potential repatriates with a supposedly bright future awaiting them in their countries of origin – as well as a sort of a complimentary gift should they agree to go home voluntarily.
The ads, which were placed on the billboards in major German cities in mid-November, featured a cheerful slogan that read: “Your country! Your future! Now!”
The ads also offered those who grab the unique opportunity before the end of 2018 a bonus in the form of the German government paying their rental costs in their countries of origin for the next year. In return, the refugees have to take back their asylum applications and renounce further legal proceedings to remain in Germany.
The unusual move was apparently prompted by a rapid decline this year in voluntary returns among migrants and asylum seekers. In 2017, 29,000 people joined the voluntary return programs, but this year the figure drastically fell to just 14,000 by the end of October.
It remains to be seen whether the ministry struck a chord with the people it sought to reach out to, but it has already clearly sparked a backlash.
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