German refugee policy: deportation numbers rise again

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Germany is sending back significantly more refugees. The authorities have no concerns about Corona.

Kabul, May 2020: No deportation to Afghanistan since mid-March Photo: Mohammad Ismail / reuter

BERLIN taz | German authorities are deporting more refugees again. After significantly fewer people were initially forced back to their country of origin or to third countries in the corona crisis, the number of “repatriations” has since risen again. According to figures from the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), 406 people were deported from Germany in June. While that is significantly less than in January and February – when the corresponding numbers were over 1,500 – but much more than in April (30) and May (92).

This U-curve in the deportation statistics can also be found if you break down the figures for the individual federal states: after a low point in April and May, almost everyone is now rising steeply again. And the incomplete data available for July so far indicate that the number has continued to increase. In Hamburg, for example, significantly more people were deported between July 1 and 23 than in June as a whole.

The federal states are thus implementing what was decided at the Interior Ministers’ Conference (IMK) in Erfurt in June: At that time, a spokesman for the Federal Interior Ministry told taz that the “repatriations” should “slowly start up again”.

After all: No one has been deported to Afghanistan – a controversial destination even before Corona – since mid-March, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced on request. In Afghanistan, corona numbers rose dramatically in June. The fact that it will not be deported there seems to be less due to concerns on the German side than to the urging of the Afghan government. The BMI announced in writing that “collective returns” were suspended “at the request of the Afghan government against the background of the corona pandemic”.

Also, deportations to other countries were probably not called off because the German authorities would have suddenly felt guilty about sending people back during a global pandemic to countries that often only have rudimentary health systems. The BMI simply states that many states have closed their borders. “In this respect, the BMI takes the situation in the countries of origin into account,” writes a spokeswoman. She also writes: “The BMI is urging the countries of origin to return to their homes soon.”

Günter Burkhardt calls all of this “irresponsible”. However, the managing director of Pro Asyl is not surprised. Affected people are often “before nothing” in the countries to which they are pushed. This also applies in part to people who are sent back to other EU countries via the Dublin procedure. Even before the corona crisis, the humanitarian situation for refugees in Italy and Greece was dramatic, according to Burkhardt. This has been even more the case since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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