A deportation aircraft bound for Afghanistan in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2016 | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/B.Roessler
A deportation aircraft bound for Afghanistan in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2016 | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/B.Roessler

The number of deportations from Germany has dropped significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Many destination states continue to uphold entry restrictions, slowing the forced return of failed asylum seekers and criminal offenders.

A total of 5,022 people were deported from Germany between January and May of this year, marking a decline of over 50% compared to the same period last year when the number stood at 10,951. The monthly total dropped to a record low of 150 in May, the German Funke media group reports, citing figures by the interior ministry.

Meanwhile, the number of persons obliged to leave the country ("ausreisepflichtig") has risen to 266,605 in May this year compared to 245,597 one year ago.

"Many countries continue to refuse the entry of foreign nationals or limit the entry to a few inevitable, individual cases," the interior ministry told Funke media group. This includes the return of criminal offenders.

No green light

The federal police reportedly ranks destination countries according to a traffic-lights system, marking as red the countries to which deporations are denied, yellow for individual cases only, and green for no restrictions. At the moment, none of the 121 countries in the system is listed as "green", Funke media group reports. The interior minstry told Funke it is pressing states for "a timely readmission of returns."

Joachim Hermann, the interior minister of Bavaria – the state with the second largest number of asylum applications in Germany in 2020 --, says that as Germany is seeing a return to normalcy from coronavirus restrictions, he wishes that "we return to a normalcy in deportations as well." He also told Funke that he is convinced that "an asylum system will only be accepted in the long term when the state consistently enacts its positive as well as its negative decisions."Deportation from Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/M.KappelerDublin returns

In mid-June, the government announced it was restarting so-called Dublin transfers -- the return of asylum seekers who already applied for asylum in another EU country under the principles of the Dublin regulation . These deportations were halted March 23 due to far-reaching travel and movement restrictions. At that time, the government said that Dublin transfers would not take place "until further notice" but that deportations to third countries could still take place.

Germany's federal immigration authority BAMF pointed out then that the suspension did not imply that the Dublin states were no longer obliged to take responsibility for examining asylum claims, only that it was temporarily impossible to carry out transfers. 

The authorities controversially also suspended the six-month time limit after which asylum seekers would normally no longer be at risk of a Dublin deportation. Some 21,700 applicants received notifications about the suspension between early March and June.

More than 9,000 people in Germany have now taken legal action against authorities for suspending the deadline on deportation. They claim the move goes against the European Commission's legal interpretation, which had stated in April that the six-month period after which a country of destination becomes responsible for an asylum application would still apply during the pandemic. 

Also read: The Dublin Regulation -- your questions answered

With epd, dpa

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