Homeless refugees in Moria. Photo: Salinia Stroux

Afghan refugees deported from Germany are forced to flee again. Refugee Support Aegean met with four of the deported stranded in one of the Greek islands and Athens. They fled Afghanistan again as their lives were at risk. After many difficulties, they managed to arrive in Greece in summer 2017 where they are living under degrading conditions.

Deportation to Civil War

More than a year after the first depor­ta­ti­on flight from Ger­ma­ny to Kabul, ano­t­her 19 pro­tec­tion see­kers were for­ci­b­ly depor­ted to Afghanistan.[1] So far, 174 per­sons have been depor­ted des­pi­te a recent spa­te of dead­ly attacks in the con­flict rava­ged country.[2] Mean­while, the Ger­man Minis­try of For­eign Affairs con­ti­nues to advice its own citi­zens against tra­vel­ling to Afgha­ni­stan due to the con­ti­nuing dan­gers. Ger­ma­ny is one of the 11 Euro­pean coun­tries cur­r­ent­ly imple­men­ting collec­ti­ve depor­ta­ti­on flights to Afgha­ni­stan or con­si­de­ring of doing so.[3]

In Decem­ber 2016, Ger­ma­ny, re-com­men­ced for­ci­ble returns of Afghan refu­gees to Kabul. The first char­ter flight of for­ci­ble depor­ta­ti­ons hea­ded to Afgha­ni­stan just two mon­ths after the adop­ti­on of the “Joint Way For­ward” frame­work docu­ment. This is a poli­ti­cal agree­ment bet­ween the EU and Afgha­ni­stan for the for­ci­ble return of Afghan pro­tec­tion see­kers from Europe.[4] On the same day, that the EU-Afgha­ni­stan “Joint Way For­ward” agree­ment was signed, Ger­ma­ny also signed a bila­te­ral ‘read­mis­si­on’ agree­ment with Afghanistan.[5] After a huge blast of a bomb clo­se to the Ger­man embas­sy in Kabul in May 2017, depor­ta­ti­ons were tem­pora­ri­ly hal­ted. But they were resu­med in October. 

In an attempt also to crea­te accep­t­ance among civil socie­ty for the resump­ti­on of such depor­ta­ti­ons, the Ger­man government used very vague terms to descri­be tho­se that would be retur­ned: Depor­tees would be “cri­mi­nals”, per­sons who con­sti­tu­te “a thre­at to public order”, or anyo­ne “who does not co-ope­ra­te for his/her iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on pro­ce­du­res”, mea­ning han­ding over to the aut­ho­ri­ties a pass­port or app­ly­ing to get one by the respec­ti­ve embas­sy, which is a pre­re­qui­si­te to be depor­ted. They added that the­re would always be an indi­vi­du­al assess­ment of each case to check whe­ther a depor­ta­ti­on would be feasible.

Just deported, and again forced to flee

“I was inde­pen­dent from the help of the Ger­man sta­te. I had a sta­ble inco­me. I don’t under­stand why I was sent back.”

Hassan Jan*, a 29 year-old Afghan refu­gee describ­ing his life befo­re deportation

Many of tho­se for­ci­b­ly retur­ned are desper­ate­ly try­ing to return again to Euro­pe to seek pro­tec­tion becau­se their lives are in dan­ger in Afgha­ni­stan. Our staff inter­view­ed four Afghan refugees[6] who mana­ged to find a way back to Euro­pe, and in the pro­cess ris­ked their lives for a second time. They descri­bed their hor­ri­ble expe­ri­en­ces of depor­ta­ti­on from Ger­ma­ny, the second escape from Afgha­ni­stan and the degra­ding living con­di­ti­ons they now face while trap­ped in Greece as a result of the EU-Tur­key migra­ti­on deal. None of them had a cri­mi­nal record in Ger­ma­ny. All were well integrated.

Hassan Jan* (29), Mosta­fa* (24), Ali Moham­mad* (27) and Jafar* (25) have many things in common.[7] We met them in August and Octo­ber 2017 in Athens and in one of the Eas­tern Aege­an islands. When tal­king about their trau­ma­tic expe­ri­en­ces, they look tired and uncom­for­ta­ble. What they all wish most is to return to Ger­ma­ny and to get a second chan­ce to stay – this time a real one.

Germany: Traumatic apprehensions and deportations at dawn

“At dawn, the poli­ce was sud­den­ly stan­ding in my room. It was may­be 4 o’clock. They only gave me 10 minu­tes to pre­pa­re. I took just the clothes that I was wea­ring. I for­got to take my school cer­ti­fi­ca­te becau­se of the shock. Then I was in Kabul, after six years in Ger­ma­ny. What I saw the­re was very dif­fi­cult for me. The first days I was too afraid to even go out of the door.”

Ali Moham­mad*, 27 year-old Afghan refu­gee remem­bers the dis­tres­sing night­ma­re of his deportation

The four young men escaped Afgha­ni­stan when they were very young and app­lied for asyl­um in Ger­ma­ny, but never got a secu­re sta­tus. Des­pi­te this, they told us that they inte­gra­ted well into socie­ty. They all lear­ned Ger­man. Also, three of them went to school. While one of them fol­lo­wed lon­ger the path of edu­ca­ti­on, the three others found jobs and could secu­re their living – until one day all their asyl­um claims got rejec­ted and their lives star­ted fal­ling apart. Their cases clo­sed and they got the inse­cu­re sta­tus of ‘tole­ran­ce to stay’ (Dul­dung). As a result, three of them lost the right to work and all were under the con­stant thre­at of depor­ta­ti­on. They expe­ri­en­ced fear and ter­ror for mon­ths befo­re ever­ything ended. Each of them was arres­ted sud­den­ly in the midd­le of the night and put on a depor­ta­ti­on flight to Kabul.[8] This was the end of an important chunk of their lives that had las­ted bet­ween five and six years sin­ce their arri­val to Germany.

Afghanistan: Too dangerous to stay

“While I was back in Afgha­ni­stan, a bomb explo­ded three times near me…”

Mosta­fa*, 24 year-old Afghan refu­gee describ­ing the dan­gers he faced fol­lowing his depor­ta­ti­on from Germany

Back in Kabul, the four young men were still in shock. They left Ger­ma­ny without even being able to take all their belon­gings. Three of them found tem­pora­ry shel­ter in the Inter­na­tio­nal Orga­niz­a­ti­on for Migra­ti­on (IOM) guest house for retur­nees, but only for three weeks. They said, that they were full of fear and didn’t dare to walk out­side. After ano­t­her six weeks in a shel­ter run by the Afgha­ni­stan Migrants Advice & Sup­port Organi­sa­ti­on (AMASO)[9], the three of them were back on the streets and left to fend for them­sel­ves, each of them hiding their indi­vi­du­al iden­ti­ties  in order to avoid per­se­cu­ti­on and the over­all dan­gers of regu­lar vio­lent attacks in the capi­tal. Ali Moham­mad* was approa­ched several times in the street by stran­gers. They told him they had seen him on TV disem­bar­king the depor­ta­ti­on flight in Kabul air­port. He also descri­bed, that the­se peop­le reques­ted money from him and that he was insul­ted and threa­tened as “Kāfir” [athe­ist, blas­phe­mer]. Mosta­fa* nar­row­ly escaped a sui­ci­de attack that took place near him, but his friend got inju­red and was hos­pi­ta­li­sed. Lacking any kind of sup­port or even con­ta­cts, all four men could not find a per­ma­nent shel­ter, nor pro­tec­tion, not even any pos­si­bi­li­ty to make a living and sur­vi­ve. The time they spent in Afgha­ni­stan they reli­ed on money they had been able to bring along from Ger­ma­ny or friends who sent some sup­port from Euro­pe. During the days and weeks they spent back in the coun­try they had once escaped from and had no fami­ly left, a coun­try they didn’t even reco­gni­ze any­mo­re, they just tried to pre­pa­re their escape back to Euro­pe in order to pro­tect their lives.

Turkey: Escape under risk of life

“…They (Greek aut­ho­ri­ties) (put us) in a win­dow­less van and trans­fer­red me (and) other refu­gees inclu­ding fami­lies to the shores of river Evros whe­re they for­ced us to board a boat.  They left us on a small island in the midd­le of the river.  We were for­ced to walk through the river to reach the (Tur­kish) shore. …..”.

Hassan Jan*, a 29 year-old Afghan refu­gee describ­ing a collec­ti­ve expul­si­on from Greece in June 2017

Mosta­fa* and Hassan Jan* faced many dan­gers during their second attempt to reach Euro­pe. At the bor­der bet­ween Tur­key and Greece they expe­ri­en­ced push-backs and detenti­on. Mosta­fa* was depor­ted back to Afgha­ni­stan once more.

Mosta­fa* was arres­ted one night in August 2017 by the Tur­kish Gen­dar­mes when try­ing to reach the coast and cross over to Greece[10]: “I stay­ed 15 days in detenti­on in Cha­nak­ka­le. They arres­ted the who­le group I was with and brought us to the poli­ce sta­ti­on. They sear­ched us and put us in cells. Only after one week they took us for fin­ger­prin­ting and asked us a few ques­ti­ons. I told them all my pro­blems, how I got depor­ted from Ger­ma­ny (and) the dan­gers I face in Afgha­ni­stan. They put me in hand­cuffs and brought me to the Con­su­la­te of Afgha­ni­stan in Istan­bul, whe­re they alle­ged I was a cri­mi­nal becau­se that’s what they say in the news, that only cri­mi­nals are being depor­ted back. I was then for­ci­b­ly retur­ned to Afgha­ni­stan for a second time.” After one day in his coun­try, Mosta­fa* direct­ly escaped back to Turkey.

Hassan Jan* descri­bed to us how he was pushed-back to Tur­key when he ent­e­red Greece through the land bor­der in June 2017. This was his first attempt to reach Euro­pe after his return to Afgha­ni­stan.  Short­ly after his irre­gu­lar ent­ry in Greece, he was appre­hen­ded during a poli­ce check on a bus.”… I was trans­fer­red and detai­ned by the poli­ce in a lar­ge room whe­re the­re were also many (other) per­sons of dif­fe­rent natio­na­li­ties – Syri­ans. Afghans and others. They body sear­ched me (and the others) and took away all our mobi­le pho­nes…. I was not fin­ger­prin­ted and was not asked to sign any kind of docu­ment… They (Greek aut­ho­ri­ties) (put us) in a win­dow­less van and trans­fer­red me (and) other refu­gees inclu­ding fami­lies to the shores of river Evros whe­re they for­ced us to board a boat.  They left us on a small island in the midd­le of the river.  We were for­ced to walk through the river to reach the (Tur­kish) shore.…..” Hassan Jan* retur­ned to Greece again on the same way only a few days after the first try.

Greece: Stranded under deplorable conditions

“… Peop­le are so tired from the con­di­ti­ons and the uncer­tain­ty of their future that near­ly every day a fight breaks out. In Decem­ber 2017, our tents got des­troy­ed once more during such cha­os. All our things got lost, sto­len or des­troy­ed. We have not­hing, but the litt­le things we keep like tre­a­su­res are lost every time and we start from zero again.”

Jafar*, 25 year-old Afghan refu­gee describ­ing the har­sh con­di­ti­ons in one of the Greek islands refu­gee camps

Under huge dif­fi­cul­ties the four young men reached Greece in the sum­mer of 2017. Now they are trap­ped in Greece in degra­ding con­di­ti­ons. Three of the men are try­ing to sur­vi­ve win­ter in their sum­mer tents in one of the island hot­spots. Hassan Jan*, who mana­ged to re-enter the coun­try through the land bor­der, found hims­elf homeless on the streets of Athens. They are all in the pro­cess of see­king asyl­um in Greece. This does not con­sti­tu­te a reli­able per­spec­ti­ve of pro­tec­tion for them.

While Greece has not yet star­ted direct for­ci­ble depor­ta­ti­ons of Afghans back to their coun­try, it is put­ting a strong empha­sis on a poli­cy of deter­rence. Sin­ce the EU-Tur­key Deal came to effect in March 2016 until the end of Janu­a­ry 2018, 1,516 Afghans[11] retur­ned “vol­un­ta­ri­ly” back home[12] from all over Greece. During the same peri­od dozens were read­mit­ted from the Aege­an Islands to Turkey[13] eit­her becau­se they didn’t ask for asyl­um, with­drew their will to app­ly for asyl­um or their asyl­um claim got rejec­ted. Many more might have been alrea­dy stop­ped befo­re reaching safe­ly Greece: They were appre­hen­ded at the Greece-Tur­kish land bor­der, pushed or pul­led back to Turkey[14] or didn’t even try to reach the ter­ri­to­ry through the Aege­an due to the fear of get­ting trap­ped and detai­ned on the islands in degra­ding con­di­ti­ons. Mean­while, in Decem­ber 2017 the Afghan government ope­ned its first embas­sy in Greece. This fact may not only sol­ve bureau­cra­tic pro­blems for many Afghan refu­gees who are in need of some offi­cial docu­ments, but it may ease the first for­ci­ble returns from Greece to Kabul.

“I feel home and safe in Ger­ma­ny,” Mosta­fa* says after all and des­pi­te the hor­rors he has been through. At the moment, he is hap­py that he was able to flee Afgha­ni­stan and save his life. But the lon­ger he stays in Greece, the more inse­cu­re he beco­mes about what he has to do and whe­re he has to go to be real­ly safe. “I am afraid to stay here. I don’t feel pro­tec­ted. Anything can hap­pen to me. I am sca­red of being retur­ned to Tur­key or even depor­ted to Afgha­ni­stan”, he says.


Hassan Jan* fled Afgha­ni­stan after life thre­ats. He was for­ced to lea­ve his coun­try of birth in his ear­ly twen­ties. First his father ran from Afgha­ni­stan, after he denied pro­vi­ding the Muj­ja­hed­din with infor­ma­ti­on con­cer­ning his for­eign cus­to­mers. Hassan Jan* was for­ced to quit school and start work soon after while still a child. When he later took over the shop of his father, he soon found hims­elf expo­sed to the same dangers.

He was in his ear­ly twen­ties when he arri­ved in Ger­ma­ny whe­re he lived for five years, worked and had his own flat. Fol­lowing, the second rejec­tion of his asyl­um app­li­ca­ti­on, Hassan Jan* stay­ed with a ‘tole­ran­ce to stay’ for eight mon­ths. His lawy­er told him not to be afraid, as he had no Afghan pass­port and could thus not be effec­tively for­ced back to Afgha­ni­stan. Des­pi­te this, he got sud­den­ly arres­ted, was held for three days in detenti­on and was then depor­ted. Hassan Jan* told us: “I was inde­pen­dent from the help of the Ger­man sta­te. I had a sta­ble inco­me. I don’t under­stand why I was sent back.”

Back in Kabul, Hassan Jan* was in shock. “I couldn’t adjust. After six days in Kabul I escaped back to Euro­pe. In Kabul, I saw how peop­le had chan­ged. They see­med to noti­ce I came from Euro­pe. Stran­gers were tel­ling me I was a Kāfir (see abo­ve). Even my uncle left the coun­try out of fear for his life.”

Hassan Jan* arri­ved in Greece in the begin­ning of June 2017. The first time he ent­e­red, he said that he was pushed back to Tur­key (see abo­ve). Ever sin­ce he is try­ing to sur­vi­ve. “I suc­cee­ded only the second time I tried to arri­ve in Greece. I cros­sed the land bor­der and went to Athens. All my money had finis­hed. I found mys­elf homeless in the streets. Some­ti­mes other Afghans were hos­ting me for one night. Some­ti­mes I slept out­side. Some­ti­mes I had food, some­ti­mes I didn’t. Now I have found shel­ter for a few days, but I don’t know when they will kick me out. My sur­vi­val depends on the soli­da­ri­ty of other peop­le and on their abi­li­ty to help. I regis­tered to app­ly for asyl­um. My asyl­um inter­view got post­po­ned as the Greek aut­ho­ri­ties clai­med they would first send a take-over request to Ger­ma­ny to clear the respon­si­bi­li­ty for my asyl­um case bet­ween the two coun­tries. I am so afraid of Afgha­ni­stan. I can never go back. I tried to find a place in a camp or in a flat, but all orga­ni­sa­ti­ons say that I have to wait. I can also not get the Cash-Card becau­se I have no place to stay. And I have no money. I actual­ly have nothing.”

Mosta­fa* is from the North of Afgha­ni­stan. Mosta­fa* is 70% blind in one eye, he says, and he doesn’t real­ly remem­ber how that hap­pen­ed. He only remem­bers, that he unders­tood he had a pro­blem with his sight when he was a teen­ager. He descri­bed his har­ro­wing life in Afgha­ni­stan: “I was 17 when I ran away from Afgha­ni­stan. When I was a child I got ill-trea­ted by rela­ti­ves I grew up with and I was sent to work for many hours a day without get­ting paid. They would beat me up with anything they could find. From the bea­tings with a woo­den stick, I still have marks on my head. Sin­ce that time, I can­not move my arm strai­ght. I have pro­blems to con­cen­tra­te and I can­not con­trol my emo­ti­ons. When I am stres­sed out, I begin to shiver.”

During his stay in Ger­ma­ny, he learnt to work as a cook. The last two mon­ths in Ger­ma­ny befo­re his depor­ta­ti­on, he had only a ‘tole­ran­ce to stay’ as his asyl­um case got rejec­ted in two instan­ces. Mosta­fa* said: “I lived for six years in Ger­ma­ny and I worked the­re for four years without a break. I have 50 pay­rolls. I can show them to you. Only for the last two mon­ths I was unem­ploy­ed as my legal sta­tus didn’t allow me to con­ti­nue working.”

Mosta­fa* told us that upon his return to Afgha­ni­stan he was in dan­ger, as he had distanced hims­elf from his faith. Fur­ther, none of his rela­ti­ves or friends was in Afgha­ni­stan and he had nowhe­re to stay. “While I was back in Afgha­ni­stan, a bomb explo­ded three times near me. The first time a sui­ci­de bom­ber kil­led dozens of peop­le near us. We were going to recei­ve some money, when we heard the explo­si­on.[1] In the panic, we lost the sight on our friend A. who had been depor­ted with us. Later we learnt that he was in hos­pi­tal as he got inju­red.[2] It was on 7 Febru­a­ry 2017. We were watching at least 3 to 4 attacks a week on the TV. I heard from friends that one of the per­sons depor­ted with us even got cap­tu­red and kil­led by the Tali­ban. You know, of the 35 per­sons depor­ted in our flight, only 7 to 8 found a tem­pora­ry place in the shel­ter for the depor­tees. I was lucky at the begin­ning to be a litt­le safer. But as soon as I had no place to stay, I had to run from Afgha­ni­stan for the second time in my life.”

Mosta­fa* suf­fers from depres­si­on. He exhi­bits sym­ptoms such as insom­nia, shi­vering hands, for­get­ting things and fee­ling dizzy without rea­son. He has also been dia­gno­sed with neu­ro­lo­gi­cal pro­blems. When spea­king about his time in Greece, Mosta­fa* sighs deeply: “When I arri­ved in Greece and I said I had been depor­ted from Ger­ma­ny, they first told me I could not ask for asyl­um, but I exp­lai­ned to them that my life is in dan­ger whe­re I come from.” The regis­tra­ti­on of Mostafa’s* asyl­um claim was post­po­ned after a big fight bro­ke in the hot­spot whe­re he stays and his next appoint­ment was sche­du­led for Janu­a­ry 2018. “Every day mas­ses of refu­gees push them­sel­ves on the fence of the Asyl­um Office. The offi­cers the­re always say ‘tomor­row, tomor­row’ – day by day. They let some­ti­mes fami­lies in, but not often us sin­gle men”, he reports.

[1] Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/asia/afghanistan-suicide-bombing-supreme-court.html (visi­ted 12.12.2017).

[2] Source: https://www1.wdr.de/daserste/monitor/videos/video-hilflos-in-kabul-abschiebungen-nach-afghanistan-100.html (visi­ted 12.12.2017).

Ali Moham­mad* is a Haza­ra from Afgha­ni­stan. When he was just six years old, he and his fami­ly escaped to Iran. Life was hard, so his fami­ly deci­ded after some years to return to Afgha­ni­stan in the hope to start all over. When they tried to actual­ly get back to their house and field, they found them­sel­ves con­fron­ted with new sett­lers. They were mili­tants see­min­gly sup­por­ting local Tali­ban lea­ders. “They atta­cked us and tried to kill my father. We tried to find ano­t­her place to live, but my par­ents couldn’t afford the rent and were afraid to have more pro­blems with the Tali­ban. So we retur­ned to Tehr­an. We had lost the litt­le we had. I had to work again as a metal worker, suf­fe­red discri­mi­na­ti­on each day, and I was under thre­at to be depor­ted to Afgha­ni­stan per­ma­nent­ly. Mean­while, my cou­sin got kil­led back in Afgha­ni­stan. It is too dan­ge­rous to go to our pro­vin­ce now. All my fami­ly left from the­re. I have nobo­dy in Afgha­ni­stan now. I don’t even know the coun­try. I have nowhe­re to go the­re and I have no papers in Iran too.”

In Ger­ma­ny, Ali Moham­mad* was living in a small city. A life he now lost. He doesn’t know how to get it back. But he also expe­ri­en­ced a lot of stress as back in Ger­ma­ny, he lived for five years with a ‘tole­ran­ce of stay’ and was con­stant­ly afraid that he would be depor­ted. This led him to a sui­ci­de attempt that near­ly cost him his life. He was hos­pi­ta­li­zed for one week. “I couldn’t find a job, becau­se of my inse­cu­re sta­tus. I had star­ted school and an internship. But I was mental­ly so stres­sed out, I couldn’t con­ti­nue my internship. I was asking mys­elf all the time, why am I not allo­wed to work and earn my own money? After six mon­ths, I stop­ped the internship. I was only slee­ping and eating, slee­ping and eating. I had no moti­va­ti­on to do anything. Not­hing made sen­se to me. I lost hope and faith. And then becau­se I had not­hing to do, I felt even worse. It was like a devil’s circle.”

Reluc­tant, he tri­es to remem­ber the day of his depor­ta­ti­on: “At dawn, the poli­ce was sud­den­ly stan­ding in my room. It was may­be 4 o’clock. They only gave me 10 minu­tes to pre­pa­re. I took just the clothes that I was wea­ring. I for­got to take my school cer­ti­fi­ca­te becau­se of the shock. Then I was in Kabul, after six years in Ger­ma­ny. What I saw the­re was very dif­fi­cult for me. The first days I was too afraid to even go out of the door. A few times a friend and I went out wal­king. Stran­gers were addres­sing us in the street. They said: ‘Hey, I know you guys. I saw you in TV. You were depor­ted from Ger­ma­ny’. They were bothe­ring us, making comments refer­ring to us as rich peop­le. As if we were rich just becau­se we came from Ger­ma­ny. I had the same jacket and shoes on I had been wea­ring during the depor­ta­ti­on and in the TV-Shows whe­re I was inter­view­ed becau­se I had not­hing else to wear. May­be they reco­gni­zed me this way. After that I got so afraid. We didn’t go out any­mo­re. Only if we had to so we could get some­thing to eat.”

Sin­ce he arri­ved on one of the Aege­an islands, he is not moti­va­ted to go even out of his tent. The doc­tors dia­gno­sed him as suf­fe­ring from depres­si­on and refer­red him for fur­ther tre­at­ment to Doc­tors without Bor­ders (MsF). He speaks about having insom­nia, anxie­ty, and a tre­mor in one of his hands. When he tal­ked to us he said: “We all only recei­ved a Cash-Card at end of Novem­ber but without anything insi­de. This means we do not have any money. Some­ti­mes we don’t get a meal. We queue for long time. Some­ti­mes the food is not edi­ble. So we don’t eat. Peop­le beat each other up for a pro­per meal.” He seems almost shy to talk about the con­di­ti­ons in the camp. “We all live in sum­mer tents, as the­re is no space in the pref­abs or big­ger tents for us. It is cold and wet here. Some­ti­mes it rains non-stop for two days. The tents are built on the cement floor. We put blan­kets in the tents, as the­re is no other pro­tec­tion apart from thin plastic. It is just wet and cold.” He mana­ged to regis­ter his asyl­um claim in the begin­ning of Decem­ber 2017 while his inter­view appoint­ment has been sche­du­led for the end of Febru­a­ry 2018.

Jafar* is a Haza­ra and he was working on a farm befo­re he fled Afgha­ni­stan as a 17-year-old. He said that he had to escape after fal­ling in love with a girl, who he was not able to mar­ry as she belon­ged to a power­ful Clan. Repor­ted­ly, their rela­ti­ons­hip final­ly led to the kil­ling of his father and for­ced him out of the coun­try while he was still a minor.

He spent his last year in Ger­ma­ny with a ‘tole­ran­ce to stay’. “After my gra­dua­ti­on from secon­da­ry school, I wan­ted to work. I just found a trai­ning place to beco­me a metal- and con­cre­te worker when they depor­ted me. I alrea­dy had the appoint­ment to start my trai­ning, and if I had star­ted, they would not have been able to deport me.”[1]

He had to stay lon­ger than the others in Afgha­ni­stan, as he did not even have the money to escape. “In July, I had to tra­vel to my home city to get a Tas­ke­ra (an iden­ti­ty card). On my way back to Kabul; I was che­cked by the Tali­ban. One of them said: ‘He is a depor­tee from Euro­pe’. They wan­ted to pull me out of the bus and arrest me. Ano­t­her pas­sen­ger inter­fe­red. He said, he knew me and I had just been retur­ned from Iran, not from Euro­pe. I was shi­vering. I show­ed them my Tas­ke­ra. They let me go. After my return to the capi­tal, I lived as a homeless per­son in Kabul. I don’t even know how I sur­vi­ved. I can­not clear­ly remem­ber the days the­re. I try to forget.”

Jafar* doesn’t want to speak a lot. He is suf­fe­ring and this is visi­ble. His asyl­um claim was final­ly regis­tered at the end of Janu­a­ry 2018. He has not mana­ged to go and see a doc­tor. Jafar* does not feel moti­va­ted to do anything. He descri­bed the dire con­di­ti­ons in the island refu­gee camp: “The­re are no func­tio­n­ing clean toi­lets here. We try to get per­mis­si­on from the resi­dents of the pre­fab houses to use their bathrooms, but most of them are fami­lies, and they don’t want us to enter.  I don’t even know when was the last time I had a sho­wer. The­re is no hot water. Some­ti­mes the water is cut for 3–4 days. The sho­wers are so dir­ty, that if we enter just, we will get sick. It is fil­thy and smells bad. As the toi­lets are bro­ken, some peop­le use the sho­wers ins­tead. Peop­le are so tired from the con­di­ti­ons and the uncer­tain­ty of their future that near­ly every day a fight breaks out. In Decem­ber 2017, our tents got des­troy­ed once more during such chaos…..”

[1] Accord­ing to the so cal­led „3+2“-rule in Ger­man Law a per­son with a tole­ran­ce to stay who enters a job trai­ning, is pro­tec­ted from depor­ta­ti­on during the years of the job trai­ning with a spe­cial tole­ran­ce to stay sta­tus (Ger­man Resi­dence Act – Auf­en­thG, §60a, par. 2, sen­tence 4 ff) and will get a secu­re per­mit to stay if he/she finds a per­ma­nent employ­ment wit­hin the next two years after pas­sing the final exams of the training.

Sali­nia Stroux

[1] This was the ninth flight of its kind and it took place on 23 January 2018.
[2] During the past few weeks, four major attacks in Kabul and other Afghan cities caused numerous civilian casualties. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42929370. See also: https://www.ecre.org/the-afghan-paradox-chaos-and-violence-but-safe-for-returns-from-europe/ (visited 05.02.2018). Between January and end of September 2017, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan documented 2,640 civilian casualties. Source: https://unama.unmissions.org/civilian-casualties-remain-near-record-high-levels-afghanistan (visited 11.02.2018).
[3] Source: https://www.ecre.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Returns-Case-Study-on-Afghanistan.pdf (visited 05.02.2018).
[4] Source: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/eu_afghanistan_joint_way_forward_on_migration_issues.pdf (visited 01.02.2018).
[5] Source: https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/afghan-exodus-afghan-asylum-seekers-in-europe-3-case-study-germany/ (visited 07.02.2018).
[6] The main interviews were conducted on 4 and 10 August and 23 and 24 October 2017. In later talks updates on their situation were given.
[7] All names are changed to keep anonymity.
[8] The four interviewees were deported with the first flights that left in the direction of Kabul.
[9] AMASO shelter offers one month of stay, which can be for another 45 days maximum. The hosted deportees have to provide themselves with food. Source: https://amasosite.wordpress.com (visited 09.02.2018).
[10] A complaint was filed about the incident with the Greek Ombudsperson.
[11] Written answer to RSA by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). Dated 6 February 2018. The statistics provided cover the period 22 March 2016 – 29 January 2018. Returns to Afghanistan had been halted in the period 20 March – 1 June 2016.
[12] For a recent comment on how refugee end up to prefer returning to their home countries due to the devastating conditions in Greece, see: http://harekact.bordermonitoring.eu/2018/01/30/the-myth-of-voluntary-deportations-assisted-voluntary-return-and-reintegration-from-greece/ (visited 15.01.2018).
[13] Between April 2016 and 31 January 2018, 88 Afghan nationals were returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey migration deal. Source: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/61801.pdf (visited 7.02.2018).
[14] A recent publication in the Greek news outlet TVXS documented refugee testimonies regarding push-backs at the land border in Evros from Greece to Turkey. Source: http://news247.gr/eidiseis/tv-xoris-sunora/tvxs-apokleistiko-to-vrwmiko-mystiko-stis-oxthes-toy-evroy.5051773.html (visited 05.02.2018).