Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Germany Begins Repatriating Afghan Refugees

Daniela Gerson:

Afghanistan is still far from a hospitable place, but that hasn't stopped German authorities from beginning the process of sending Afghan refugees back home. The first have already been deported, and tens of thousands are now fearing for their future.

It was the letter he had been dreading for months. Just over a week ago, the German government wrote Wahid Solleimanie, 24, telling him he was no longer welcome. On September 25, the letter said, the Afghan refugee would be forced to leave the country he has called home for the last six years. Since then, Solleimanie has been afraid to sleep in his own room in the northern port city of Hamburg; he is terrified the authorities will surprise him in the middle of the night.

"I have no future in Afghanistan," says Solleimanie, dressed sharply in a blazer, but with dark lines under his eyes. "There's no work for me there, I have no family, and the war is still going on."

The German state, though, disagrees; officially, at least, the war is over. Even if warlords continue to rule over drug-infested fiefdoms throughout much of the country, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary election in 35 years last Sunday and parts of the country have been stable for years now. At a conference last November, German state interior ministers determined that Afghanistan was sufficiently stable for refugees to be sent home. Of the 58,000 Afghans currently living in Germany, up to a third suddenly faced expulsion.

Now, 10 months later, that decision is finally being acted upon and Hamburg is taking the lead. Home to 15,000 Afghan refugees -- the largest such population in Germany -- the city state plans to deport 5,000 of them over the next two years. Already, hundreds of letters have been sent out urging refugees to voluntarily repatriate themselves and by the middle of September, six Afghans had been sent back. Other German states, including Bavaria and Baden W├╝rttemberg to the south, should soon follow Hamburg's lead.

EU parliament backs asylum bill

EU backs uniform system for asylum seekers

Europe ships war refugees back home


At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again you see the problem in dealing with crises by allowing in large numbers of "refugees" -- those granted entry regard it as permanent (if not at the outset then soon thereafter), while (most of the time) authorities do not. So then you have to deal with forced repatriation, which is a very ugly business.

As for the Afghans, who can really blame them for wanting to stay? I'm sure life back home will be a little bit rougher than comfortably living off German taxpayers.

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politicians in Germany are capable of courage, unlike the US. Oh yeah, there is Tom Tancredo. The quote at the end of the paragraph could be revised for US purposes to something like:"This is no longer the 19th Century, it is the 21st-the US should no longer be a country of mass immigration but one of limited immigration.
"Nagel also notes that the twice weekly flight to Kabul from Frankfurt was booked solid with holidaymakers throughout August. His point is clear: Afghans who have been granted permanent residency in Germany are happy to return to their homeland. The others are just trying to exchange their refugee status for immigrant status. Then, puffing on his trademark pipe, he repeats a line cited often by German conservatives: "Germany is not a country of immigration."


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