Berlin seeks to deport more failed Afghan refugees

Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker [European Commission]

The German government wants to deport more rejected Afghan refugees as part of a European readmission agreement. European Parliament President Martin Schulz supports the idea. EURACTIV Germany reports.

According to a newspaper report, Berlin wants to deport more Afghan refugees back to their homeland. The Sunday (25 October) edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that at the mini-summit on refugees, held in Brussels that day, Germany would seek to lay the groundwork to negotiate a readmission agreement with Afghanistan for rejected asylum seekers. Berlin wants the European Commission to handle the negotiations.

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The newspaper also reported that the move is based on the fact that Afghans are currently the second largest group of asylum seekers after Syrians. For years, Germany has had a moratorium in place on deporting Afghans, even though only roughly a half of them were actually judged to be in need of asylum. Since 2012, no more than 10 Afghans a year have been deported by Germany.

Schulz: those who don’t need protection must go back

The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, confirmed the intention to open negotiations during an interview on German television. He quoted the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, saying that “those who have no right to stay must be sent back”. It was also a message directed at the refugees themselves, in that “those who are not persecuted and have no chance of being granted asylum, should not surrender themselves to the whims of traffickers and criminals”.

Bavaria’s Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann (CSU), called for a harder line in the same newspaper. “The process of deporting rejected Afghan asylum seekers must be urgently strengthened,” he said. “We must send a clear signal on this matter,” he added.

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The plan has been met with strong criticism by human-rights activists. Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse, and it is still too dangerous to deport people there, warned Günter Burkhardt, the head of the refugee aid organisation Pro Asyl, on Sunday. He added that Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently in the midst of a U-turn, making refugee-friendly speeches, but at the same time rejecting people who seek protection.

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