On the basis of the EU-Afghanistan agreement ‘Joint Way Forward’ five Member States have recently deported rejected Afghan asylum seekers to Afghanistan. Germany, Austria and Sweden have chartered flights last week, whereas Finland and the Netherlands scheduled flights this week.

Fifteen deported asylum seekers arrived in Afghanistan by chartered flight from Germany on 28 March, while 19 landed the day after from Austria and 10 from Sweden. Another flight, from Finland, arrived on Tuesday 4 April. In the Netherlands, the deportation of an Afghan family with minor children was heavily protested on the 31 of March by ECRE member Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland expressing concerns about the safety of the family upon arrival and the deportation could lead to a breach of the non-refoulement principle.

European governments hold that those deported back have failed rigorous asylum tests, and that major cities like Kabul are sufficiently safe. Recognition rates differing between 35% and 56% across the five countries deporting and the well documented instability of Afghanistan does little to support that claim. At the same time the deportations takes place at a time when the pressure is intensifying for the more than 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities pushed 600,000 Afghans over the border to a country ill-equipped and resourced to receive them.

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Photo: (cc) Jim Kelly