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Germany sends second batch of Afghan refugees to Kabul

KABUL An Afghan refugee who was deported from Germany arrives with his belongings at the international airport. — AFP

KABUL: Deported after years of living in Germany, 26 young Afghans arrived in Kabul yesterday with only one thought in mind: fleeing this war-torn country. Escorted by 80 German police officers, their plane landed shortly after 7.30 am (0300 GMT) — the second batch deported under a disputed Afghan-EU deal signed last October and aimed at curbing the influx of migrants.

“What would you have me do here? There is only death!” said 19-year-old Ramid Afshah, returning from Germany after five years-a country it had taken him six months to reach. Airport police spokesman Mohammad Adjmal Fawzi said at least one of the 26 was “suffering” and showing signs of psychological distress, adding: “He could be brought back to Germany.”
Several of the migrants told AFP they had been arrested Monday morning at dawn and sent to Kabul with just a small piece of luggage or a backpack containing their belongings.  “The police came to pick us up yesterday morning at 4 am and we were treated like animals,” said Arash Alkozai, 21.

Alkozai, who had come to Germany when he was 16, was living in Munich with his family before taking a room in the city. After leaving school he had studied auto repair, all the while learning to speak his adopted tongue “perfectly”. “I cannot say anything negative about this country that helped me. I respect its decision but now I’m living a nightmare. I’ve left behind my three-month pregnant girlfriend, I won’t find work here and there’s no security,” he said.

Raging conflict
Afghanistan has been battling an insurgency since a US-led coalition toppled the hardline Taliban in late 2001. The conflict caused some 9,000 deaths or injuries among civilians in the first nine months of 2016, according to the United Nations, which is to publish its annual report by the end of the month. In 2015 the number of civilians killed or wounded was more than 11,000, the highest recorded since 2009, with children paying a particularly heavy price, according to UN figures.

Some 250 people staged a protest against the deportations at Frankfurt airport on Monday night, Sarmina Stuman of the Afghan Refugees Movement told AFP. “Afghanistan is simply at war, which is why we are protesting against expulsions to a country like Afghanistan,” she said. In December German interior minister Thomas de Maizière justified the expulsion of Afghans in order to preserve the “right” of asylum in the country, the only one in Europe to open its doors wide to refugees.
De Maiziere argued that Taliban attacks largely targeted “representatives of the international community” in Afghanistan and not the civilian population. A first flight carrying 34 men arrived in Kabul in December, a third of whom had been convicted of crimes ranging from theft to homicide, according to the German authorities. That did not appear to be the case yesterday, when the passengers were able to leave the airport freely.

They will be sheltered by the government for at least two weeks. After that they face an uncertain future, with Afghanistan already so overwhelmed by people fleeing fighting that officials have warned of a humanitarian crisis. Standing just outside the airport, appearing lost in the fog and melted slush, a man called Milad said he had spent 11 years in Germany and wanted a “cigaratte and a drink” before he set off in search of an uncle whose address he did know. Told his second wish could not be fulfilled in the conservative Islamic republic, he said: “I don’t actually know this country.” – AFP

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