The program “StartHilfe Plus,” which loosely translates to “start help plus,” began on Wednesday.
Administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the initiative aims to financially reward asylum applicants if they are willing to return to their homelands. About 40 million euros ($43 million) has been set aside for payments.
“In the year 2016 about 55,000 people voluntarily returned to their homelands – that’s an increase compared to the year before [about 35,000 in 2015]. We have good conditions [for another increase on voluntary returns] with our additional budget,” Jutta Cordt, who officially took over the leadership of BAMF on Wednesday, told DW.
BAMF is dealing with a backlog of some 430,000 unprocessed applications for asylum, something Cordt described as a “challenge.”