Europe

Germany's AfD leader wants failed asylum seekers housed on islands

Frauke Petry in the state parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart, Germany, 6 July 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Frauke Petry recently saw a split in her party

The leader of Germany's right-wing populist AfD party has called for failed asylum seekers to be housed on islands outside Europe.

Frauke Petry also told Germany's Bild newspaper that the country's refugee office should be turned into an emigration bureau.

German media believe she meant the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, used by Australia for asylum camps.

Her controversial new party has grown during Germany's migrant crisis.

Its Eurosceptic, anti-migrant message has propelled it to third place in opinion polls, behind the two parties in the governing coalition.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Last year saw a record number of undocumented refugees and migrants enter Germany

"Illegal migrants and asylum seekers whose applications are rejected will be accommodated on the two islands outside Europe that are protected by the United Nations," Ms Petry said, without naming the islands.

Nauru and Manus lie 14,000 km (8,700 miles) and 13,200 km from Germany respectively.

Germany's refugee office has struggled to cope with record numbers of refugees from war-torn countries like Syria. It recorded its highest net immigration of foreign nationals in 2015, totalling more than 1.1 million for the year.

"I propose the transformation of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees into an office for emigration, which ensures that all illegal migrants leave this land as soon as possible," Ms Petry said.

The AfD, or Alternative for Germany, suffered a crisis last month when it split in a row over anti-Semitism.

It had come under fire earlier this year when it said that there was "no place for Islam" in Germany in its manifesto.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.