KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec 15, (Agencies): A group of 34 Afghan asylum seekers returned home on Thursday after being deported from Germany the day before, an official said, a move that was made possible after a recent Afghan-Germany deal to stem the influx into the European country. The plane carrying the deportees — all young men without families — landed in Kabul around 5:00 am, said the Kabul airport chief of police, Mohammad Asif Jabarkhil.
Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, told reporters in Berlin that about a third of the men had been convicted of crimes in Germany, including rape, manslaughter, assault and drug offenses. Fifty were scheduled to be on the plane but in six cases courts intervened in the last minute on appeal, and 10 “irritatingly” went into hiding, de Maiziere said, promising unspecified consequences.
Many of the deportees expressed disappointment, saying they had lived and worked in Germany for years and were now forced to come back without any job prospects. “I am not happy, everything is different for me here,” said Sidiq Kuchai, a 23-year-old from northern Baghlan province who was in Germany for seven years. “I had a good job and was working in a restaurant in Cologne. But in Afghanistan, I have no job and no security.”
The memorandum of understanding that Berlin and Kabul recently signed is part of Germany’s efforts — after allowing in 890,000 migrants last year — to manage the influx by speeding up the asylum process for the applicants most likely to receive it, such as Syrians fleeing civil war.
In turn, German authorities accelerated the expulsion of unlikely candidates for asylum, such as people seeking to escape poverty in the Balkans. But Afghans fell somewhere in the middle, with some areas of the country, like the Kabul area for example, considered safe and some not. Until now, few were deported with many instead being convinced to go home voluntarily with financial incentives.
Some 12,500 Afghans in Germany have been ordered to leave the country and officials concede that deportations alone will not suffice. German officials said the deportation was considered a successful pilot project, and was part of a Europe-wide initiative to begin returning Afghans whose asylum had been rejected. The EU recently also signed an agreement with Afghanistan that mirrors the German agreement, and Sweden deported a dozen Afghans earlier this week.
De Maiziere said deportations and voluntary returns are a key part of managing the huge influx of asylum seekers to the country last year, in conjunction with accelerating granting asylum and integrating those whose cases are most likely to be approved, like Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war. He called them “two sides of the same coin.” “Such deportations are justified and important for our asylum system to