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Merkel: Europe needs more deals with third countries to send back migrants

'It is necessary to get agreements with third countries, especially in Africa but also Pakistan and Afghanistan... so that it becomes clear that those with no right to stay in Europe can go back to their home countries,' Merkel told reporters. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Vienna, Austria Sep 24, 2016, 02.46 PM (IST)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she wants to stop illegal immigration by securing deals with third countries and sending back migrants who did not qualify for asylum.

The chancellor was in Vienna along with other European leaders to discuss the issue of migration along the Balkan route, the path into Europe was shut down by Austria and other countries, leaving thousands of migrants stranded in Greece.

"We want to stop illegal immigration while living up to our humanitarian responsibilities. It is necessary to get agreements with third countries, especially in Africa but also Pakistan and Afghanistan... so that it becomes clear that those with no right to stay in Europe can go back to their home countries," Merkel told the press.

The number of migrants into Europe has relatively reduced after EU's accord with Turkey to halt a mass influx of migrants into Greece in return for billions in aid. The influx has far from stopped, however, with many migrants attempting to cross over from Libya or Egypt to Italy instead. 

Austria last year took in 90,000 asylum-seekers, more than 1 per cent of its population. It says it could not cope with another such wave of arrivals, and wants far more wide-ranging action to ensure that does not happen.

More than 300,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean this year, down from 520,000 from the first nine months of 2015, a UN report released earlier this week states. 

More than 60,000 migrants remain stranded in Greece. Merkel said that an EU relocation scheme to share out some of these people among EU states has been "too slow". 

Meanwhile, 300,000 refugees are expected to arrive in Germany this year, the head of the country's migration office said in a newspaper interview this month.

The change in Merkel's stance also comes in the wake of her pro-migrant party, the Christian Democrats', defeat in the Berlin state election.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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