Ger­many moves to de­port 50 Afghan asy­lum seek­ers, refugee group says

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY KIRSTEN GRIESHABER

BERLIN | About 50 Afghans who had their asy­lum bids in Ger­many re­jected were be­ing de­ported on Wed­nes­day, a prorefugee group said, as the gov­ern­ment works to re­duce the num­ber of mi­grants re­main­ing in the coun­try.

A plane with the de­por­tees on board was set to leave Frankfurt air­port Wed­nes­day evening, refugee group Pro Asyl said. Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers chanted slo­gans at the air­port’s de­par­ture ter­mi­nal ask­ing to have de­por­ta­tions to Afghanistan halted.

Af­ter al­low­ing in 890,000 mi­grants last year, Ger­many has sought to man­age the in­flux by speed­ing up the asy­lum process for the ap­pli­cants most likely to re­ceive it, such as Syr­i­ans flee­ing civil war. Au­thor­i­ties in turn have ac­cel­er­ated the ex­pul­sion of those un­likely to qual­ify for asy­lum, such as peo­ple seek­ing to es­cape poverty in the Balkans.

Afghans have fallen some­where in the mid­dle, with some ar­eas of the coun­try con­sid­ered safe and some not. But few have been de­ported be­cause Ger­many lacked a proper agree­ment with Afghanistan. In­stead, many have been con­vinced to go home vol­un­tar­ily with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives.

But the Ger­man and Afghan gov­ern­ments signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on de­por­ta­tions a few weeks ago, paving the way for the sev­eral dozen who were to be sent home on Wed­nes­day night.

Ger­many has tried to con­vince re­jected Afghan asy­lum seek­ers to leave vol­un­tar­ily by of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives upon their re­turn home. Some 3,000 asy­lum seek­ers re­turned to Afghanistan this year as part of the repa­tri­a­tion pro­gram, In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Jo­hannes Dim­roth said.

Only 18 Afghan ci­ti­zens were de­ported in the first half of 2016, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures.

More than 12,500 Afghans have re­ceived or­ders to leave the coun­try, but have not yet been de­ported.

Crit­ics say send­ing peo­ple back to Afghanistan puts them in dan­ger be­cause of the Tal­iban’s con­trol of some parts of the coun­try and fre­quent sui­cide bomb­ings. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment claims that mi­grants only will be sent back to safe re­gions.

Swe­den, which has been an­other top Euro­pean des­ti­na­tion for mi­grants, de­ported 11 Afghans ear­lier this week, po­lice spokesman Mat­tias Lind­holm said.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has said in re­cent weeks that Ger­many needs to toughen its stance and en­sure that mi­grants who are re­fused permission to stay do leave the coun­try.

“We need a na­tional ef­fort to re­turn those who are re­jected — that is undis­puted and we are work­ing on that at present with great vigor,” Ms. Merkel told a con­fer­ence of her con­ser­va­tive bloc’s youth wing in Oc­to­ber.

The ma­jor­ity of the mi­grants who ar­rived in Ger­many in 2015 were from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The coun­try has been grap­pling with the in­te­gra­tion of the many new­com­ers and hos­til­ity to­ward mi­grants has been on the rise. This year, the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers has de­clined sharply, with some 230,000 peo­ple hav­ing ar­rived in the coun­try by the end of Septem­ber.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A Ger­man refugee group says that some 50 Afghans were be­ing de­ported on Wed­nes­day to their home­land af­ter be­ing re­jected as asy­lum seek­ers in Ger­many. The plane was set to leave Frankfurt air­port Wed­nes­day evening, Pro Asyl said.

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