BERLIN (AP) — Migrants from the Balkans have very little chance of winning asylum in Germany and risk being billed for the cost of being deported, according to a video released Friday by German authorities hoping to stop a stream of applicants from southeastern Europe.
The four-minute video, to be screened in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, shows migrants being put aboard a police bus, then boarding a flight home.
Germany has seen an influx of asylum applicants from the Balkans this year even though they stand almost no chance of having their applications approved.
"Don't trust promises that you can get asylum for economic reasons in Germany, or that other incentives like property or loans will be provided to you," the voiceover on the video says, warning that if they are deported they face being billed "many thousand euros" (dollars) to cover the cost.
"Don't ruin yourself and your family financially to be trafficked to Germany," it says. "Help actively to build up your homeland economically; use your knowledge and skills there."
In this year's first half, Kosovo, Albania and Serbia were the second, third and fourth-largest sources respectively of asylum applicants in Germany, beaten only by Syria. Around 40 percent of the total came from the Balkans.
Officials worry that economic migrants from democracies that aim to join the European Union are straining already-stretched refugee accommodation and weighing on Germans' acceptance of refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea.
The U.N. refugee agency's director for Europe, Vincent Cochetel, said Friday that asylum applicants from the Balkans "are clogging the system. The vast majority of them are not in need of international protection."
"We need to take really fast-track decisions for those people who are not in need of protection and have them returned quickly," he said in Geneva.