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Germany: 50% fewer asylum-seekers deported due to Covid-19

The decrease was partially due to travel regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic, with officials citing a lack of flights and refusal on the part of some countries to take back their citizens.

Deportations of rejected asylum-seekers from Germany dropped significantly in 2020, partially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From January to the end of October, 8,802 people were deported from Germany, the Interior Ministry’s state secretary Volkmar Vogel said in response to a question from Ulla Jelpke, an MP and domestic affairs spokesperson for the socialist Left Party.

The figure compares with 22,097 people deported in the whole of 2019.

If the number is sustained for the entire year, it would mark a 52% drop compared to last year.

The fall in deportations was mainly due to a lack of flights. Destination countries also sometimes refused to take back their citizens, citing protection against coronavirus as a reason.

Calls to halt all deportations

According to a report issued by the German Institute for Human Rights, Germany also temporarily ceased deportations in mid-March, at the start of the global pandemic.

However, “since the opening of borders the resumption of air traffic, deportation measures to third countries have also been carried out again.”

“This development is important in view of Germany’s duty to protect people affected by deportation,” the report said.

The institute also called for a total suspension of deportations amid the pandemic.

“In view of the uncertain situation and the imminent danger to health and life posed by COVID-19, deportations should be suspended for the time being.”

According to the German Interior Ministry, the main destination countries for deportations in 2020 were Albania, Georgia, France, Serbia and Moldova.

The number of voluntary departures financially supported by Germany will also likely be lower in 2020. By October, over 4,000 people had taken advantage of this program, the Interior Ministry said.

Germany resumes deportations to Afghanistan

Despite reduced deportations earlier in the year, Germany resumed the practice with Afghan citizens this month. On Thursday, 40 asylum-seekers arrived in the capital Kabul. Since December 2016, the German government has deported 937 asylum-seekers to Afghanistan.

German NGOs and politicians decried the move, in view of both rampant violence in the country and the continuing global pandemic.

“It is scandalous that the federal government does not cease to force deportations to one of the most dangerous countries in the world. People must not be sent into war and misery,” Jelpke said of the resumption of deportations to Afghanistan.

Additionally, the country’s blanket halt to all deportations to Syria — a policy that has been in place since 2012 —will expire at the end of the year.

Earlier this month, state interior ministers failed to agree on another extension, meaning that in 2021, authorities will be able to look at the possibility of deporting people to Syria on a case-by-case basis.

Ministers have insisted that the rule will only apply to convicted offenders and those considered a serious security risk.