In attempt to placate increasingly vocal critics of her refugee policy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that asylum-seekers from Iraq and Syria must return home once it is safe enough to return, Reuters reported.
Merkel has so far resisisted pressure from conservatives in Germany urging her to do more to cap the influx of refugees, or to close Germany's borders outright. A record 1.1 million refugees arrived in Germany in 2015.
Concerns have mounted about the country's ability to provide shelter and services for the refugees, as well as about security following a number of assaults on women earlier this month.
Merkel insisted that despite ongoing efforts to integrate refugees into German society, it was important to remember that they had only been given permission to stay in Germany for a limited time.
"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 ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained," she said at a meeting of Christian Democratic Union members in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
She also mentioned that 70 percent of refugees that fled to Germany from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned to their home countries once the war finished.
Merkel has been pushing other European countries to take in quotas of refugees, advocated for reception centers to be built on the EU's external borders, and led a campaign pushing Turkey to do more to stop refugees from entering the EU.