11 December 2015

According to the latest quarterly statistics released by EUROSTAT, Afghan nationals make up the second largest group seeking asylum in Europe, with 56,700 first time applications, which includes a large number of unaccompanied and separated children. Although there is a high EU-wide rate of Afghans being granted international protection of 70%, a number of EU countries have become increasingly restrictive in their policies towards Afghan asylum seekers, evidenced by a growing determination to deport them, despite ongoing security concerns and violence in the country.  

For example, Germany has reversed its policy of allowing the right to remain to Afghan asylum seekers whose application was rejected, in favour of stepping up deportations, and has launched campaigns to discourage arrivals, viewing Afghans as ‘economic migrants’. Along with other EU countries, such asSweden, it is negotiating for a readmission agreement to make deportation easier. This is contrary to the views of the Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriations who says that EU countries should avoid deporting Afghan asylum seekers, due to the increased risk posed by terrorist groups. Many EU countries consider that certain provinces of Afghanistanare safe for civilians and, therefore no longer grant protection solely based on the security situation, arguing that if civiliansare at risk of harm in their area of origin they should move to a saferarea .  

A report published this week by German ECRE member PRO ASYL,titled ‘No safe country of origin, no flight alternatives – the current security situation in Afghanistan’ plainly highlights the danger of the above-mentioned assumption. It provides details of the ongoing problems in Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency continues. It finds that there are an average of nine civilians killed each day and a high risk of kidnap and assassination. In this context, the German Foreign Office has recently deployed more troops to Afghanistan,even though it had planned to withdraw by the end of next year. Experts from the armed forces have predicted a deterioration in2016, anticipating that the Taliban could take control of several key regions and overpower Afghan security forces,as it recently did in its offensive in Kunduz.  

PRO ASYL demands fair treatment of asylum applications and for the German government to refrain from further deportations to Afghanistan. It stated that “the security situation in Afghanistan has changed permanently. Even in alleged ‘safe’ regions, fighting can break out. The current security situation shows that deportations to Afghanistan would amount to deporting people into life-threatening conditions”. 

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 December 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.