To encourage rejected asylum seekers to voluntarily leave the country, the German government is thinking about offering a cash incentive. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says the idea for the bonus is aimed at helping with their reintegration back home.

In an interview published in the newspaper Bild am Sonntag on December 3, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the financial help could cover the costs associated with travel and restarting life back home.

On top of that, de Maiziere said families can receive up to €3,000 and individuals up to €1,000 if they voluntarily return home by the end of February.

“When you voluntarily decide to return by the end of February, in addition to startup help you can provisionally receive housing cost help for the first 12 months in your homeland,” de Maiziere said in a direct appeal to rejected asylum seekers.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, rejected asylum seekers can receive money in their homeland for rent, building, home renovations or even basic equipment for a kitchen or a bathroom. It’s part of a programme called “Your country. Your future. Now!”

“There are opportunities in your homeland. We will support you with concrete help for your reintegration,” de Maiziere said.

But human rights groups are critical of this idea. The German refugee organisation Pro Asyl, for instance, called it an underhanded strategy.

“[The government] is trying to entice people to give up their rights in the basest manner,” managing director Günter Burkhardt told the German news agency DPA on December 4.