REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Germany -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday around 3,000 migrants were returning to Iraq from Germany every month and that the number was on the rise.
Many are living in shelters and are frustrated with a slow asylum process in a country struggling to work through a backlog of asylum applications after 1.1 million migrants arrived last year.
"At the moment 3,000 are returning to Iraq every month for example - and it's an upward trend - when their cities are liberated from Islamic State," Merkel said at a campaign event in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg ahead of a regional election there and in two other states on Sunday.
Merkel, who faces a key test in the first elections since the refugee crisis got into full swing last summer, said it was therefore important to ensure that there was stability and an end to war in Syria and Iraq.
The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has gained support among voters unhappy with Merkel's open-door policy for refugees, is expected to win up to a fifth of the vote in the regional elections on March 13.
Merkel has repeatedly said that the number of migrants coming to Europe's largest economy will go down.
"Not every refugee ... will stay here," she said on Thursday.
She added that many wanted to return to relatives who "are not yet here and who cannot come here for a long time".
Merkel said Syrian peace talks in Geneva were important "so that there is hope again that the people can go back".