Another deportation flight took off on 7 April and forcibly returned 20 people to Afghanistan, despite the deteriorating security situation for the civilian population in the country. Tareq Alaows, a Syrian refugee, has withdrawn his candidacy for this year’s federal elections after facing massive threats and racism.

On 7 April, several hundred people protested in Berlin against the take-off of the 38th deportation flight from Germany to Afghanistan since 2016. According to the police, 50 to 75 people were registered for the demonstration organised by the Brandenburg Refugee Council. This number was exceeded on the day with activists speaking of about 500 protesters. Some blocked the pre-removal detention centre and an access road. However, 20 men were forcibly returned that night and landed in Afghanistan the next morning. After a discontinuation due to the corona pandemic, the deportation flights to Afghanistan were resumed in December 2020 and have since taken place on a monthly basis. More than one thousand people have been deported from Germany to Afghanistan since collective forced returns to the country ranking least peaceful in the world began more than four years ago.

As reflected in a report published on 12 March by the United Nations Secretary-General, the security situation in Afghanistan has further deteriorated with 25,180 security-related incidents recorded by the United Nations in 2020.  This represents a 10 per cent increase compared to 2019 and is “the highest on record since the United Nations started documenting incidents in 2007 and despite the start of the Afghanistan peace negotiations.” Further the report states: “Humanitarian needs reached a record high owing to ongoing violence, natural disasters and heightened levels of food insecurity, further compounded by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.” In this context of a devastating security situation, the health risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the catastrophic economic conditions that have further deteriorated due to the pandemic, Pro Asyl, an ECRE member, urges the German authorities to finally stop forcibly returning people to Afghanistan. The devastating effects of the pandemic have been recognised by the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg that recently issued a ban on deportations to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the ‘Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation between Afghanistan and the EU’ (JDMC) that was recently approved by the Council of the EU, aims to facilitate and increase deportations from member states, even of vulnerable groups.

Tareq Alaows, who wanted to be the first Syrian refugee to enter the German Bundestag, has withdrawn his candidacy for the federal elections held in September after being subjected to massive threats and racism. He had planned to put the needs of refugees at the centre of his political work.

For further information:

Photo: (CC) Ronnie Robertson, January 2018

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.