As a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany has for the time being stopped deporting people to eastern European nations like Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Romania. That's according to a media report.
Citing statements by state interior ministries, the German Welt newspaper on Saturday (April 2) reported that all 16 German states have temporarily halted deportations to eastern European countries. They include Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus and Moldova.
The ban was "due to the closure of the airspace [over Ukraine] and the ban of direct scheduled flight traffic until further notice," according to a statement from the Bavarian interior ministry cited in the article. Other ministries echoed this reasoning.
The airspace over Moldova was initially closed until April 25 and the airport in the capital Chisinau was temporarily closed, stated the interior ministries Saarland and Baden-Württemberg, according to Welt.
All 16 states said they have suspended deportations to Ukraine, Russia and Moldova until further notice. Although not every state explicitly said so, the temporary deportation stop also applies to Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia due to the high number of refugees who have arrived there since February 24.
For instance, Poland and Romania informed the German ministries they would not accept deportees for the time being due to the war in Ukraine, Welt reported. Exceptions were not possible, the interior ministry of Baden-Württemberg said. The interior ministry of Saxony said Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had paused so-called Dublin deportations.
According to the latest UNHCR figures, Poland, Romania and Slovakia together have received more than 3.4 million people fleeing Ukraine, although a significant number of refugees have likely gone elsewhere since.
'Duldung' for six months
According to a spokesperson from Berlin's immigration authorities, people who cannot be deported at present would receive a temporary suspension of removal, or 'Duldung', for six months. Once the airspace over Ukraine was available again, the situation would be reassessed, the spokesperson said.
Most other states did not say what would happen to those obliged to leave the country.
A representative from the state police union in Berlin meanwhile warned of a backlog of deportations due to the ban. However, he added that not deporting people to eastern Europe was the "absolutely the right decision in the current situation."
Lower rate of deportations
Thousands of asylum seekers are deported from Germany each year. Last year, nearly 12,000 deportations were carried out, most of them to Georgia and Albania. That's according to the German federal interior ministry. Serbia, Pakistan, Moldova and Romania were also among the main destination countries last year, Welt reported, adding that a majority of deportations take place by plane.
Many deportees from Germany are so-called Dublin cases, meaning they first entered the EU in a country like Greece and are likely to be transferred back there since that country is responsible
The rate of deportations from Germany has nearly halved since before the coronavirus pandemic: In 2020, German authorities carried out 10,800 deportations, down from around 22,100 in 2019.
Since the beginning of the Russian attack on February 24, Germany's federal police have registered some 307,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine. The real number is likely a lot higher given there are no fixed border controls and people with an Ukrainian passport are allowed to stay in the European Union for up to 90 days.