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Migrants resist deportation from Germany

Kate Brady
August 19, 2016

Some 35,000 deportations took place in Germany in the last 18 months. More than 600 were abandoned, however. Pro-free movement groups are offering information on how to successfully hinder a deportation.

Refugees being deported from Leipzig-Halle airport
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow

Escorted by two officers, a migrant boards a plane. He is about to be deported back to his home country. But minutes before takeoff, he and other refugees refuse to travel. Perhaps they begin to shout, refuse to fasten seatbelts, tell the pilot that they're not traveling of their own free will.

Such was the case in more than 330 deportations that were abandoned between January 2015 and June 2016, interior ministry figures have shown. In total, more than 600 deportations from Germany by plane were abandoned.

In 160 cases, the airline or pilot refused to take the migrants. According to interior ministry figures, 46 of those cases involved German airline Lufthansa, 23 involved Air Berlin and 20 Germanwings. In 108 cases, the deportation couldn't take place as the person concerned was ill.

The largest number of migrants resisting deportation was from African countries such as Eritrea and Gambia, which each saw more than 30 such cases. This was followed by migrants from Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Cameroon, each with between 18 and 23 cases. Another 13 cases were reported among Syrian migrants and another nine from Afghan migrants.

The number of cases postponing a deportation is relatively small, however, with an estimated 35,000 deportations having taken place in the same time period from January 2015 to the end of June 2016.

Usually a loud 'no' is enough

Methods by which migrants resist their deportation are not unheard of, however, with tips now easily accessible online.

Advice website "w2eu," which provides "independent information for refugees and migrants coming to Europe," describes how German police allegedly "often behave recklessly, and often also brutally, to enforce an ordered deportation." The site advises that once on the plane, deportees "should explain that they are not taking this flight willingly."

Refugees from North Africa
An estimated 35,000 migrants were deported from Germany between January 2015 and June 2016Image: picture-alliance/dpa

"Usually a loud 'no' is enough," the website reads. If that doesn't help, the site suggests "loud screams, refusing to sit down, refusing to buckle yourself in or throwing yourself on the floor."

During deportations, however, an independent body is usually on hand to oversee the behavior of authorities as well as the migrants being deported.

One of the three main airports in Germany where such deportations are carried out is Frankfurt International. Two posts have functioned there since 2006 to oversee deportations.

"Since a death in 1999, there have been suggestions that human rights could be violated during deportations," Diana Nunez told DW in a statement.

Observation of the deportations aims to "make the processes transparent," Nunez said.

'Major obstacle'

In only 37 cases, a deportation was abandoned after the countries of origin refused to accept their nationals.

An unidentified source at Germany's interior ministry told German newspaper "Bild," however, that this was a "major obstacle in the implementation of deportations."

The problem is "the lack of cooperation of some destination countries in the identification of its nationals and the issuing of passport substitute papers," the source said.

Resistance from fellow passengers

It isn't just migrants, however, who are opposing their deportation from Germany and other EU countries. Most recently on Wednesday, two Germans were thrown off a flight from Brussels after showing their support for a migrant who was due to be deported to Cameroon. Three French nationals and a Cameroonian were also removed from the flight.

According to a spokesperson for Belgian police, the incident began after the migrant, who was accompanied by two officers, began yelling onboard the aircraft.

100,000 expected to be deported in 2016

The German government currently expects around 100,000 people to have been deported by the end of the year. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced last week that he aimed to ease the deportation process, particularly for migrant criminals.

In an interview last month with local German publication "RP-Online," de Maiziere also scrutinized the number of deportations that were aborted on medical grounds.

In light of the recent figures of aborted deportations, Left Party politician Ulla Jelpke criticized the interior minister for his calls to eliminate factors preventing deportations.

Jelpke said the "so-called deportation obstacles" were rather "the few safeguards still available to refugees after the previous dismantling of the right to asylum."

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