Germany has deported another group of rejected asylum seekers from Afghanistan back to their home country. 44 men arrived in Kabul on Wednesday - the 30th group to be deported in the past three years.
The plane with 44 Afghan men on board landed in Kabul on Wednesday morning. It was the 30th group deportation of Afghans from Germany, bringing the number returned in the past three years to 800.
All the men were adults and they included 27 people who had committed offenses, some of them serious, the German interior ministry said. They had been living in different locations throughout Germany.
Not all those intended for deportation were on the plane that took off from Munich airport on Tuesday evening. In Bavaria alone, six men either absconded or were spared deportation through legal or political intervention, Stephan Dünnwald, from the Bavarian Refugee Council, explained to InfoMigrants. On Thursday a search was continuing for at least two of the men, he said.
Germany has been forcibly returning people to Afghanistan since the end of 2016. Some states deport only those who have been convicted of serious crimes. There are no such limitations in Bavaria, where all single Afghan men face deportation once their asylum application is rejected.
Return to Kabul
Until a few months ago, Afghan returnees arriving in Kabul were initially housed in a hotel run by the UN migration agency, IOM. This is no longer the case. The deportees now receive around 130 euros and are pointed in the direction of private accommodation. It is up to family members, volunteers and non-profit groups to make sure the men are not forced to sleep on the streets, Dünnwald explains.
On Wednesday, the Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization (AMASO) was preparing for the arrival of the deportees: "AMASO is in contact with some of those being deported today and will provide them with temporary shelter and first-hand advice and support post deportation," the group's Facebook page said.
The deportations remain highly contentious, mainly because of the security situation in Afghanistan and the worsening conflict between the government, the Taliban and IS. Critics say the country is still too dangerous to send people back.
Afghanistan ranks as the most violent country in the world in the 2019 Global Peace Index. According to the United Nations, more than 1,350 civilians were killed in the first half of this year.
On Wednesday, coinciding with the arrival of the German deportation flight, a well-known aid worker, Tetsu Nakamura, and five other people were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan.
Activists in Germany continue to oppose the deportations. There were protests throughout the country this week, including in the state of Saxony, where at least one of the Afghan men had been living. "We are strongly opposed to this inhuman practice," said Flo Linde, from a Leipzig group, Protest LEJ. "The German government and officials deport people in the full knowledge that Afghanistan is not a safe country," Linde said.
The non-government refugee and asylum group, Pro Asyl, called on Germany‘s state interior ministers to stop the deportations "once and for all". It said Afghanistan had become more dangerous since 2016, and that young men deported from Europe to Afghanistan faced additional risks.
Dangers for returnees
Men returned to Afghanistan face a very high risk of violence against themselves or their families. In a survey conducted by the German social scientist Friederike Stahlmann with about ten percent of all Afghans deported from Germany between the end of 2016 and April of this year (55 people), nearly every one of them said they had experienced targeted violence after returning to Afghanistan.
In some cases, men were attacked by the Taliban just because they had been in Europe. Others faced rejection by their own families, who blamed them for getting deported because they had broken the law in Germany and put the family in Afghanistan at risk.
Just one person who answered the German survey said he wanted to remain in Afghanistan. By October, half of the respondents had already fled, some hoping to make their way back to Germany.
Back to Europe
"In some cases, people don‘t have enough money to leave again straight away," Stephan Dünnwald says. "Many of those who do manage are already back in Iran or Turkey within a few weeks."
One called the Bavarian Refugee Council from Athens to ask whether it would be a good idea to return to Germany or Austria. But asylum policies in Austria and Germany are relatively restrictive, making France a better destination, according to Dünnwald. "In July I met two people in Paris who had been deported to Afghanistan – one from Bavaria and one from Austria – and were now back in Europe. They had decided that this time they would go to France," he says.
The high rate of deportations to Afghanistan from Germany, and especially Bavaria, has forced large numbers of Afghans to disappear with country or to flee to more welcoming parts of Europe, particularly France, Dünnwald says. "For every Afghan deported from Bavaria to Afghanistan, there are four or five or even more who leave Bavaria and flee somewhere else," he says.
In this way, the German government is contributing to the "secondary migration" problem, about which it has often complained, according to Dünnwald. "In fact, Bavaria really should be paying the costs of accommodation for asylum seekers in France."