Asylum seekers from Afghanistan have fled their country. Many are hoping to find safety and security in European countries.
Yet, European countries are deporting these asylum seekers and sending them back to their war-torn country.
This policy has been highly controversial.
It was temporarily suspended during 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic. But, it has recently restarted, with deportations from Germany and other European countries.
Find out more about the deportation of Afghans before, during and after the outbreak of COVID-19.
Deportations Before the COVID-19 Pandemic
The German government recognised certain regions of Afghanistan as safe in December 2016. Since then, Germany and other EU countries have been deporting Afghan asylum seekers.
The last deportation flight from Germany to Afghanistan was in early March 2020.
The Kabul government asked for these deportation flights to be suspended, as they were struggling to cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic. So, Germany suspended Afghan deportations for nine months.
Deportations After the COVID-19 Pandemic
However, Germany and other EU countries have started to deport Afghan asylum seekers again.
This started on 16 December 2020. 11 failed asylum seekers from Austria and Bulgaria were on a flight that landed in Kabul.
The next day, on 17 December 2020, 40 Afghan asylum seekers from Germany landed in Kabul.
Then, on 12 January 2021, 26 people whose asylum claims were rejected by the German government were deported to Afghanistan. The flight landed in Kabul in the early hours of the next day.
According to sources, the German government has deported 963 asylum seekers to Afghanistan since December 2016.
Criticism of European Deportations to Afghanistan
The deportation of Afghan asylum seekers from Europe has been widely and passionately criticised.
There are almost 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan. People flee for many reasons, including poverty, violence, danger and unemployment.
That is why NGOs and politicians around the world have criticised Europe’s deportation of Afghan asylum seekers. They are being sent back to a dangerous, hostile and life-threatening environment.
Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. It is currently ranked as the world’s least peaceful country.
The conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban is ongoing. This country is at war, which is extremely dangerous for civilians.
Afghan civilians are also regularly targeted by the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group. In the last 10 years, over 10,000 civilians have been killed or injured.
As well as this, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the people of Afghanistan. The infection rate is high, and the pandemic has jeopardised the country’s fragile economy and health care system.
All this means that European countries are deporting Afghan asylum seekers to a country that is not safe.
Critics of the European deportations include the German human rights organisation Pro Asyl, and German Green party politician Claudia Roth.
What Happens Next?
The EU is close to renewing an agreement with Afghanistan to enable further deportations. This EU-Afghanistan agreement was previously known as the ‘Joint Way Forward’.
Many civil society organisations opposed the original agreement. They are also continuing to oppose its renewal. But, the European Commission has continued with negotiations.
A note from the European Commission was issued on 13 January 2021. It asks the European Council to endorse the agreement’s renewal.
European Deportation of Afghans
Europe has recently restarted its deportation of Afghans, following a brief pause due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. This means that Afghans are at risk of returning to a dangerous and hostile country.
It is not only countries in Europe that are adopting this policy. Afghan asylum seekers across the world are being forced to return to Afghanistan.
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