Angela Merkel says most refugees should go home - after Isis has been defeated

Merkel has said that refugees have a 'temporary residential status'

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said most Syrian and Iraqi refugees should return home when conflicts in their home countries have ended.

Defending her open-door policy towards refugees at a regional meeting with her Christion Democratic Union, Ms Merkel said many of the refugees will return home after Isis had been routed:

"We need ... to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once IS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”

Around 1.1 million refugees have arrived in Germany in the past year, with Ms Merkel’s unwillingness to limit numbers leading to considerable criticism from other parties, including the CDU’s sister party the Christian Social Union, which has threatened to take the government to court if numbers are not reduced. 

There has also been an increase in support for far-right party Alternative for Germany – whose leader has said that migrants entering illegally ought to be shot if necessary.

Criticism from the German public has also become increasingly vocal following a wave of sexual assaults on women in Cologne taking place on New Year’s Eve.

A survey conducted by Focus magazine revealed that out of 2,047 Germans, 40 per cent said Ms Merkel should resign. 

Ms Merkel also urged other countries to open their borders to refugees, since “the numbers [in Germany] need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in the spring.”

She said that all EU states would suffer from the collapse of the passport-free Schengen zone, and it is in their interest to keep these internal borders open. 

Ms Merkel said that 70 per cent of refugees from the former Yugoslavia who fled to Germany in the 1990s had now returned.

Additional reporting by Reuters