German refugee camps are so awful that refugees are trying to get passports to return home
A trickle of Syrian refugees have decided their best bet is a risky crossing to the West at the hands of smugglers
The conditions in German refugee shelters are so bad that some refugees would rather return to the homes they fled than stay where they are.
"They gather people in horrible camps with no space to sleep, bathe, or relax. There is no hope here in Germany," Heval Aram, an Iraqi asylum seeker in Germany, told Euronews.
Aram had travelled for 12 days with his family to come to Germany.
"I hope nobody will leave their home to come here," he said.
Others complain that the asylum process is too slow.
"I am not allowed to bring my family, and I haven't received a permit to stay yet. I can't work, I can't move around freely," Mohammed Mohsen, who has been seeking asylum for over five months, told Deutsche Welle.
"You can't open the doors to refugees and then not see the process through," Mohsen said.
Hamid Maheed, a booking agent at Iraqi Airways, told Deutsche Welle that since October he had helped about 50 refugees return to Iraq every week, with that pace doubling in January.
Over 1 million people sought asylum in Germany last year. Many refugees have seen waiting periods jump from weeks to months, with thousands of people cramming into emergency shelters.
New arrivals may spend all the money they have to make the trip to Germany, only to give up on trying to a build a new life in Europe. The price of food relative to the amount of money they get from the state and slow asylum procedures were named by other Iraqis as reasons for returning home, according to Euronews.
A migrant rests on a bench as others wait inside a tent at the the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGESO), in Berlin, Germany, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
People at the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs on January 5.
Other people have come to the conclusion that the culture in Germany is too different from theirs back home and that they won't be able to adapt.
Abdullah Alsoaan, a 51-year-old Syrian, told The Wall Street Journal that he came to Germany to be treated for diabetes and that he was waiting for a new passport to return home.
After seeing teenagers kiss in public, he realized he could not raise his daughters there. "The problem isn't with the Germans or Germany, people are very nice," Alsoaan told The Journal. "But they have their way of living their lives and we have ours."
A migrant entering a tent that serves as a waiting room at the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs on January 5.
The Iraqi embassy in Germany has in the past four months issued almost 1,500 passports for people who want to go home, DW reports. The passports are "single use" and allow recipients to fly only to Iraq. Some asylum seekers had lost their passports on their way to Europe. Others discarded them to pretend they were Syrians, as asylum requests from Syrians are often prioritized.
Some of the asylum seekers sold their last jewellery items to afford a ticket to return home. Alla Hadrous, who owns a gold shop and runs a travel agency, told Euronews that a lot of people had already left: "I don't have the exact figure, but it's a lot. Some have had to sell their valuables ... in order to buy a ticket back to Erbil or Baghdad."
In Finland, the situation is similar. Finnish officials said last week that almost 70% of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications were processed last year abandoned their claim and returned home, AFP reports.
According to Finnish immigration services, from about 3,700 Iraqi asylum seeker claims the country processed, almost 2,600 were expired, which means the applicants had disappeared or cancelled their requests.
Juha Simila, from the Finnish Immigration Service, told AFP that many applicants did not expect the processing time, which increased in 2015 as the country received almost 10 times as many asylum requests as it received in the previous year, to take so long.