People deported from Germany at Kabul airport on December 15th, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sobhani

Last Monday, a second deportation flight departed from Frankfurt Airport, touching down in Kabul on January 24th. As the political agenda of forcing further deportations to a country at war continues, a closer look at the identities of the people affected by the deportation in December reveals who they were.

The first of Germany’s collective deportations to Afghanistan took place on December 14th, 2016. 50 people were supposed to be on board of the deportation flight from Frankfurt to Kabul; in the end there were only 34. The deportations of the others could be stopped – in some cases only very last minute.

All offenders? Certainly not!

On December 14th, a rumour started to circulate, according to which every single one of the deportees was an offender. In a later press release, the Federal Minister for the Interior, de Maizière, stated that »about a third« had committed crimes and talked about a whole host of accusations, without, however, giving any further details. So, who are these people who were deported or were supposed to be?

PRO ASYL has – more or less detailed – information from a variety of sources on 23 of the affected people, some of whom were deported, some of whom were part of the group whose deportations could be prevented for the time being.

The reports available to us paint a very broad and heterogeneous picture: The people are between 21 and 57 years of age and had mostly been in Germany for between two and five years; some even longer. Some of them had started apprenticeships or were already in employment. Many were in medical care, for instance for psychological issues. For most of these 23 people there is no evidence of any offending.

»It is clear that there is an attempt to tarnish the entire group of deportees with the same brush and to create a general suspicion of »delinquency«. This is done in order to build public acceptance for deportations to a region of crisis and war.«

A press review of individual cases

General suspicion is created against the entire group

Among the deportees, there were indeed some individuals who had committed crimes. However, the number of offenders among the group remains completely unclear, as does the severity of the alleged offences.

So far, investigations have only revealed that at least one person was collected directly from detention in Hamburg, and that – according to an information request at the Ministry for the Interior in North Rhine-Westphalia – five of the deportees from that region were »delinquents«, although apparently only three of those had been convicted by a court of law, while two court procedures were still ongoing. This poses the question why the term »delinquent« is used at all in the case of ongoing legal proceedings.

»One thing is clear: Separate investigations into each individual case – the existence of which was publicly asserted by the federal states – have not yet taken place at all.«

There is a clear attempt to create a general suspicion of »delinquency« for the entire group of deportees. By further stressing the fact that the deportees are »young, single men« the inhibition threshold for deportations to a war-torn and crisis-ridden region is lowered and public acceptance for such a practice is created.

What is more, even deportations of young, single men or offenders are questionable, as the affected people are knowingly sent into life-threatening situations. Furthermore, such deportations equate to double jeopardy.

Which federal regions are carrying out deportations?

The people affected by the deportations in December were sent by Bavaria (8), Hamburg (7), North Rhine-Westphalia (10), Baden-Wuerttemberg (unknown), Hessia (probably 4) and Saarland (1). Bremen, Berlin, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Schleswig-Holstein currently do not carry out deportations of Afghan refugees, while Rhineland-Palatinate only plans to deport »offenders and persons constituting a threat«, but no others. The plans of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg remain unclear. In addition, Schleswig-Holstein is pushing for a nationwide ban on deportations.

The identities of those individuals deported on January 23rd also remain unclear. What is certain, especially given the approach taken with December’s deportations, is that separate investigations into each individual case – the existence of which was publicly asserted by the federal states – have clearly not taken place. In addition, the people affected face an uncertain future in a highly unstable country.

Scant support for returnees

Media reports on December’s deportees give a clear impression about the lack of support given to them upon their return to Afghanistan. If at all, shelter is provided only for a matter of weeks, and financial support is very low, even for Afghan standards. What compounds the problem is that currently thousands of Afghans are forced to return to their home country from neighbouring nations such as Pakistan – their situation is equally precarious.

»»In the opinion of the UNHCR, a whole-sale approach that designates certain areas as safe and acceptable internal alternatives for protection – with regards to the risk of human rights violations as relevant for protection of refugees or subsidiary protection – is not possible, given the current situation in Afghanistan.««

UNHCR report to the Federal Ministry of the Interior

UNHCR: Armed conflict affects the entire state territory

In any case, by carrying out these deportations, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is completely ignoring the security situation in Afghanistan. Even a specially commissioned UNHCR report cannot deter de Maizière, the Federal Minister for the Interior, from his path – despite the fact that this report clearly illustrates the situation on the ground.

The report states that in the UNHCR’s opinion, »with reference to the interpretation of the term ‘internal armed conflict’ by the European Court of Justice in the case Diakité« […] »the entire state territory of Afghanistan« is »affected by an internal armed conflict as per article 15c of the EU qualification directive«.

In a press release, PRO ASYL again urgently calls upon the federal states to immediately cease preparations for deportations to Afghanistan.

We have published advice for Afghan refugees and their advisors here.