According to German press reports, Merkel’s government wants to send a strong signal to discourage hundreds of thousands of Afghans heading to Germany.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday:
“This is unacceptable. We agree with the Afghan government that we don’t want this, and there are also increasing numbers of members of the middle class — including many from Kabul.”
Afghans are the second-largest group of asylum-seekers in Germany after Syrians, who are more or less assured of obtaining asylum because of the civil war back home. But because large parts of Afghanistan are under government control and are considered relatively stable by Western governments, many Afghans will have to return home.
De Maiziere also pointed out that German soldiers and police officers have been contributing to making Afghanistan safer.
“Large amounts of development aid have gone to Afghanistan — so we can expect that Afghans stay in their country. So I am saying very clearly today that people who come to us as refugees from Afghanistan cannot all expect to be able to stay in Germany.”
Genuine refugees fleeing Taliban persecution or Afghans who have worked for the German military will be granted asylum.
Presently, only around 50% of Afghans get asylum in Germany. But the rejected asylum-seekers are not deported and are allowed to stay in Germany in a legal limbo, a situation which is about to change soon. Germany wants the EU to negotiate a repatriation agreement with Afghanistan so refugees can be safely returned. If the negotiations don’t succeed, Germany will try to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the Kabul government.
The idea to send Afghan refugees back is also supported by the President of the EU Parliament Martin Schulz. He confirmed the intention to open negotiations during an interview on German television and quoted the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, saying that “those who have no right to stay must be sent back.”
However, many human-rights activists don’t agree with the plan to send the Afghans back because their home country is still too dangerous to live.
According to UNHCR, 124,000 Afghans requested asylum in Europe this year, more than twice as many as in the same period last year.