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Germany, Netherlands suspend deportations to Afghanistan

August 11, 2021

Germany and the Netherlands reversed course and decided to allow failed Afghan asylum seekers to stay temporarily amid the growing conflict in Afghanistan.

Police escort people who are being deported to Afghanistan in 2017.
Since 2016, more than 1,000 migrants have been returned to AfghanistanImage: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/S. Babbar

Germany will temporarily stop deportations to Afghanistan due to the unstable security situation, the German Interior Ministry told DW on Wednesday.

The decision comes as the Taliban make massive territorial gains across Afghanistan following the foreign troops withdrawal from the country.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who had earlier backed the deportations despite the conflict, defended Wednesday's decision.

"Those who have no right of residence must leave Germany again," Seehofer said. "But a constitutional state also bears responsibility for ensuring that deportations do not become a danger for those involved."

Earlier in the day, the German Interior Ministry said it believed it would still be possible to deport Afghan asylum seekers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said Wednesday nearly 30,000 Afghans in Germany were slated for deportation.

Alter told reporters the ministry "continues to be of the view that there are people in Germany who need to leave the country, as soon as possible." 

What about the Netherlands? 

Ankie Broekers-Knol, the state secretary in the Dutch Justice Ministry, told parliament in The Hague Wednesday deportations would be suspended for the next 12 months due to the Taliban's advances across Afghanistan.

Broekers-Knol said that the Dutch Foreign Ministry was reassessing the security situation in Afghanistan to make its final decision. 

The move is an about face as just last week, the Dutch government urged the Afghan government to continue to accept failed asylum seekers.

Six European Union member states, including Germany, had earlier warned against stopping deportations from Europe.

Since NATO forces announced their withdrawal from Afghanistan in early May, the Taliban have sought a battlefield victory making aggressive pushes for territorial gain as civilian casualties mount.

In recent days, the Taliban have captured nine out of 34 provincial capitals.

(AP, dpa)