Protests against latest Afghan deportations from Germany
January 24, 2018
Nineteen people have arrived in Kabul after being deported from Germany. Protesters gathered at Düsseldorf airport before their departure to highlight that Afghanistan is not safe.
"There is war and many bombs in Afghanistan," said 11-year-old Hadisa Bakhshe at a protest at Germany's Düsseldorf airport on Tuesday against the latest round of controversial deportations to the war-torn country. "Many people are dying. You shouldn't send people back there."
The young Afghan was one of some 200 to 300 demonstrators that joined the "Afghan outcry" initiative of civil society groups against the ninth collective deportation to Afghanistan in the past year.
Since December 2016, 155 Afghans have been deported from Germany to Afghanistan.
Opponents of the deportations label them a violation of international law, because the Taliban and "Islamic State" (IS) perpetrate constant violence that makes Afghanistan unsafe.
The "safe areas" that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere speaks of while justifying deportations to Afghanistan don't exist, rights groups argue.
Afghanistan is not safe
Hadisa's family has lived in Germany for two years, explained her mother Maryam.
She came to the protest at the airport "so that people can see that Afghanistan is not a safe place." She was also worried because she does not want her three children or others to have to live in a place as dangerous as Afghanistan.
"There, one doesn't know whether tomorrow they will be alive or not," she said. For the moment her family is allowed to stay in Germany.
Another demonstrator explained in a quiet voice that he also feared he would one day be deported. "I have fear, that tomorrow or the day after a night will come and I will have to go back to Afghanistan… I can't sleep."
In all, 19 Afghans boarded the chartered plane to Kabul, much less than around 80 people that had been mentioned in the media in run-up to the deportation. Some of them were criminals.
Court orders, health issues and appeals have stopped or delayed deportations in the past. Others simply disappeared and were not found at their homes.
This time there also appeared to be another issue, security personnel. The police union said in an interview that there were simply not enough federal police to carry out the proposed deportations. For this flight from Düsseldorf to Kabul there were initially not enough police volunteers on hand.
Since 2016 there have been restrictions on who is allowed to be deported, with more allowances made for women and children. For men, there are three categories that might also get them deported: criminals, those that are deemed to pose a threat to the public, and individuals who hide or fake their identity.
But refugee aid organizations say that each German federal state applies different standards for deportation.
There have been several cases of well-integrated people being taken away for deportation. In a number of instances, attempts at deporting integrated Afghans have been reversed following a public backlash.
"Afghans are all victims of terrorism," said Hasamddin Ansari, who came to the demonstration in a wheelchair. "I know better than healthy people: I lost both my legs in Afghanistan.” He was wounded in a bomb attack in Herat.
He has been living in Germany for three year and is recognized as a refugee. He proudly says that he is studying.
The 11-year-old Hadisa is also going to school. "We fled to Germany, so that we can go to school here," she said. The young girl is only in the fifth grade but has hopes to be a doctor when she grows up.
As the plane flew to Kabul and the protesters went home, one demonstrator said "it wouldn't be the last" deportation.
More than 14,000 Afghans are obliged to leave the country because their asylum applications were denied or for other reasons, according to Germany's migration ministry.
Of them some 10,000 are allowed to stay for now because repatriation is not possible in the foreseeable future.