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Germany

The difficulty with deportations to Morocco

After the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne, deportation became a priority. How can North Africans living illegally in Germany be deported faster? It's possible, but it's not working, reports Jens Borchers from Rabat.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a phone call to Morocco's King and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere visited Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco to get things off the ground. Everything seemed to be running smoothly when de Maiziere met his Moroccan counterpart at the end of February. Ultimately, the Moroccan side agreed to improve the cooperation, especially with regard to identifying undocumented Moroccans in Germany.

"We have agreed that we must, as a rule, identify Moroccan citizens by taking fingerprints, since Morocco has an excellent database of Moroccan citizens. And the Moroccan side has communicated that it generally responds within 45 days."

It sounded good, but in practice, not much seems to have changed. Statistics from the German Ministry of the Interior show that only 35 deportations to Morocco and 25 to Algeria were carried out in the first four months of this year.

Marokko Thomas de Maiziere trifft Mohamed Hassad

German Interior Minister de Maiziere (r.) with his Moroccan counterpart Mohamed Hassad

Procedures have not been accelerated compared to the previous year – for both countries. Only Tunisia seems to be doing a better job. Fifty citizens of the country subject to deportation left Germany before the end of May 2016, meaning that the numbers have tripled compared to the entire year in 2015. During de Maiziere's visit, Morocco's Interior Minister Hassad demonstrated his country's goodwill and promised to deliver results.

"We have agreed to take action against those who willfully take advantage of migration to Germany by pretending to be refugees," he said, referring to Moroccans who were pretending to be Syrians.

Why deportations are not moving forward

It seems as though the Moroccan side is indeed trying to be cooperative. It has taken some time to technically prepare a quicker identification process and then, the deportations. But the basic procedure has been decided.

Nonetheless, the question arises as to why the number of deportations is still so low. No one is willing to openly comment – not Germany and not Morocco. In Germany, the Federal Police, the interior ministries of the German states and hundreds of immigration offices are responsible for preparing and organizing the deportations.

Marokko Migration Afrika Mittelmeer

Migrants waiting to be deported

The question is, how well does this complex triangle of organizations work together? Incorrectly written names and complicated data exchange processes are among the sources of errors that can delay the deportation procedure. Perhaps this is why the number of identification requests that Germany sends to Morocco is by no means as great as one might expect.

The actual deportation by plane also adds to the problems. Moroccans may only travel on scheduled flights with Royal Air Maroc, Morocco's state airline. As in many countries, airline captains officially exercise control of the situation on the airplane. If a person to be deported resists, the pilot can refuse to take that person on board.

Many of these minor, individual problems add up to one result: The German desire for accelerated deportation procedures still requires a great deal of work. It has been said that "emphatic" and "trusting talks" are being held with Moroccan authorities. Germany and Algeria are discussing ways of improving the use of biometric data. The data is supposed to help clearly identify Algerian citizens without papers. As for difficulties on the German side: Germany must solve its own problems.

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