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More police roped in for German deportation flights

December 14, 2019

The number of police officers escorting deported migrants from Germany has risen sharply over the past four years. Security staff are feeling the strain over safety concerns and distant destinations.

Police accompany an asylum seeker to a flight
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Bildfunk/S. Puchner

The number of police officers accompanying deportation flights in Germany has nearly doubled in four years, despite overall deportations decreasing.

There were nearly 11,000 police officers on deportation flights in 2018, compared with 5,841 in 2014 — a jump of 5,639 in a four-year period, reported the German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ).

During the same time period the total number of deportations has fallen — the German government told the NOZ that deportations had decreased from 10,787 in 2015 to 7,987 in 2018.

Between January and October 2019 alone a total of 11,480 police personnel traveled on deportation flights, compared with 11,000 from the same time period a year before.

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Why more police officers?

The German Interior Ministry told the NOZ that the number of police required on flights had risen "to ensure the safety onboard the airplane." A safety assessment is carried out for each individual deportation.

A further reason for the rise in police deployment for deportation flights is that more deportees are being flown to long-haul destinations in Africa or Asia.

The NOZ reported that in 2018 there were 439 deportation flights heading to Morocco and 283 flights with Afghanistan as their destination.

An 'extreme burden' for police

Jörg Radek, vice chairman of the police union, said that the deportations placed an "extreme burden" on the deployed officers.

Many of the deportees were in an exceptional state emotionally, they said.

"They resist with any means: scratching, biting, spitting and kicking. Some police officers have been badly injured," he told the paper.

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Kate Martyr Editor and video producer at DW's Asia Desk and News Digital