BRUSSELS – The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):
Germany has launched a new website designed to help encourage migrants to return voluntarily to their home countries.
The website http://www.returningfromgermany.de is part of the two-pronged strategy to dealing with the influx of more than 1 million asylum-seekers in the last two years.
Germany is trying to speed up the asylum process for those likely to be allowed to stay like Syrians fleeing war, and quickly return home those with little hope of asylum.
With deportations expensive and complicated, Germany has been encouraging volunteer returns with financial and other incentives.
But the Funke media group reports in the first quarter only 8,468 people returned home voluntarily, versus 13,848 over the same period last year.
The website provides information on counselling centers, programs and other aid to refugees upon their return.
The European Union's statistical agency says that more than 63,000 children traveling without adult company applied for asylum last year, more than half of them Afghan and Syrian nationals.
Eurostat said Thursday that 63,300 unaccompanied minors applied for international protection in the 28 EU nations plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
It said the number was a third down from last year but still five times higher than the annual average.
More than two thirds of the minors were males and aged 16 to 17. Almost 6,300 were under 14. Almost 60 percent of the applicants sought asylum in Germany.