A deadly blast in Kabul this week reignited the debate on deporting refugees from Germany to war-torn Afghanistan. The chancellor has now temporarily halted expulsions for all except criminals and security threats.
Germany will temporarily suspend deportations to Afghanistan after a deadly bombing in Kabul this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.
Federal and state governments agreed on a suspension of deportations to Afghanistan until a further security assessment by the foreign ministry, Merkel said in Berlin, adding that the suspension would most likely continue until July.
Pending the new assessment, Germany will continue to promote voluntary return and would keep deporting criminal offenders and threats to security on a case by case basis, Merkel said.
The attack was a reason to "take another proper look" at Afghanistan, with the German Foreign Ministry examining the threats "province by province."
Many German politicians have long argued that Merkel's government was not justified in sending refugees back to Afghanistan due to safety concerns. The argument escalated after the latest attack in the heavily guarded diplomatic heart of Kabul. In response, the German Green Party on Thursday launched a parliamentary motion to halt the deportations. The largest opposition party in the German parliament, the Left Party, derided deportations as "inhumane."
As the news of the Wednesday attack broke, Germany was preparing to send a plane full of refugees back to Kabul. The plane was delayed, with Berlin explaining that German diplomats in Kabul were too preoccupied with the blast to deal with the returnees.
However, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the flight would be rescheduled as soon as possible.
Earlier, Joachim Herrmann, interior minister in the German state of Bavaria, had told the media that it was still "feasible" to return the refugees to Afghanistan.
"The latest attack in Kabul was terrible," he told newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. "But we don't have to stop the deportations because of it."