A group of 38 Afghans arrived in Kabul from Germany on Thursday, the first to be deported under an agreement reached between the two countries this year, following the rejection of their applications for asylum.
Thousands of Afghans joined asylum-seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere entering Europe from 2015, and became the second biggest group of asylum seekers in Germany in 2016 after Syrians, according to German data.
A charter plane carrying the Afghans, all men, without families landed around 5 local time at Kabul airport, airport police chief Mohammad Asif Jabarkhil, said.
Many expressed concerns over the move, saying some of these deportees have been living in Germany for years and they might be facing reprisals in Afghanistan, as much of Afghanistan is not safe yet.
The deportations are taking place under an agreement reached with Afghanistan in October, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Interior Ministry said earlier.
The Afghan Ministry of Refugees will help returnees get back to their homes, a ministry spokesman said, adding that about 10,000 Afghans had returned from Europe this year.
The next plane sending Afghans home had been chartered for early January, according to German media.
More than a million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived in Germany since the beginning of 2015, prompting concerns about security and integration.
The influx has boosted support for anti-immigrant groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats toughened their tone on migrants and Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn said the legal barriers to deportation must be lowered.