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Opinion

Opinion: A desperate attempt to find safe areas in Afghanistan

The good times are over for Afghan asylum seekers. The ongoing refugee influx is leading German policymakers to reassess the situation in Afghanistan. But such a plan is nonsense, says DW's Florian Weigand.

It may make some Afghan asylum seekers gasp for air when they read news reports about Germany's growing determination to send back Afghans whose asylum applications have been rejected.

Until now, this hasn't been the case, as some 7,200 Afghan citizens have been allowed to remain in Germany even without an official residence permit. But this might soon change, meaning that the hardships endured by these migrants, most of whom left behind their families, would have been in vain.

There are surely migrants, who - without any reasonable threat to their lives - apply for asylum in a bid to improve their economic situation. But let's be honest: Who would seriously doubt that there is no real danger to people's lives in Afghanistan?

One does not need to be a political activist to be at risk. Employees working for foreign or internationally financed NGOs, women attending university or those in the wrong place at the wrong time are all potential targets.

Suicide bombers launch attacks almost daily across the country. These assaults also claim the lives of ordinary civilians such as green-grocers who are hit when, for instance, a passing military convoy is attacked by insurgents.

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DW's Florian Weigand

Berlin under pressure

German policymakers are obviously aware of this. But it is not ethical issues but rather logistical and administrative problems which increasingly determine the toughening of German asylum laws. Germany is struggling to tackle the refugee influx, and in this context, quick solutions - even drastic ones - are becoming increasingly popular.

Against this backdrop, it seems only logical to determine not only which countries of origin are safe, but also which areas are safe in technically "unsafe" states such as Afghanistan, in order to facilitate deportations.

But where are these "safe" areas? The Taliban strongholds in the south and east are out of the question; so we are left with only a few more or less large enclaves.

While the capital Kabul is often taken into consideration, we should remember that radical Islamists have already succeeded in attacking the Parliament and the allegedly secure luxury hotel "Serena" - just to name a few of numerous attacks launched by the extremists.

But, in this context, which of our politicians would declare Berlin a safe city if the Reichstag and the Adlon Hotel were attacked by terrorists?

The northern city of Kunduz was also long considered a relatively safe place. That was until the Taliban's brief takeover of the strategic provincial capital and former German army camp taught everyone better. Only Mazar-e-Sharif is left in the north, where there is a contingent of German troops.

But already outside the city gates, the Taliban can move as they please. Not long ago, an Afghan woman secretly shot a video of a Taliban fighter inspecting the bus she was traveling in on her way to Mazar-e-Sharif.

No help from Kabul

It's no wonder then that there is also growing resistance to the proposal in Germany. Opposition parties have slammed the idea, and the German government itself seems deeply divided over the issue. And no help is coming from Kabul either.

In a DW interview, Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriations Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi said that Germany and other EU countries should avoid deporting Afghan asylum seekers. He stressed that security in the country has been deteriorating as terrorist groups such as the Taliban and "Islamic State" gain ground and put civilians at risk.

This is the Afghan government's ultimate declaration of political bankruptcy. But it's also a concealed accusation against the West: The dream of a functioning Afghan state remains unfulfilled, due in part to the fact that Western commitment in the country hasn't lived up to expectations.

Development aid has also been scaled back as working in the country has become increasingly dangerous for foreign experts.

More money and personnel would have been necessary. But instead of collecting a peace dividend, the West must now pay an even higher price. And now we have to deal with the shattered dreams of refugees whom we lured for over a decade with the dream of democracy, but which they cannot realize in their own country.

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