Germany floats bonus for rejected asylum seekers to go home


By the planeload

On September 12, 2017, a flight left Germany's Düsseldorf airport for Afghanistan, carrying 15 rejected asylum seekers in what is the first group deportation to the country since a deadly car bomb blast near the German embassy in Kabul in late May. The opposition Greens and Left party slammed the resumption of deportations to Afghanistan as "cynical."


Fighting for a chance

In March 2017, high school students in Cottbus made headlines with a campaign to save three Afghan classmates from deportation. They demonstrated, collected signatures for a petition and raised money for an attorney to contest the teens' asylum rejections - safe in the knowledge that their friends, among them Wali (above), can not be deported as long as proceedings continue.


'Kabul is not safe'

"Headed toward deadly peril," this sign reads at a demonstration in Munich airport in February. Protesters often show up at German airports where the deportations take place. Several collective deportations left Germany in December 2016, and between January and May 2017. Protesters believe that Afghanistan is too dangerous for refugees to return.


From Würzburg to Kabul

Badam Haidari, in his mid-30s, spent seven years in Germany before he was deported to Afghanistan in January 2017. He had previously worked for USAID in Afghanistan and fled the Taliban, whom he still fears years later – hoping that he will be able to return to Germany after all.


Persecuted minorities

In January of the same year, officials deported Afghan Hindu Samir Narang from Hamburg, where he had lived with his family for four years. Afghanistan, the young man told German public radio, "is not safe." Minorities from Afghanistan who return because asylum is denied face religious persecution in the Muslim country. Deportation to Afghanistan is "life-threatening" to Samir, says


Reluctant returnees

Rejected asylum seekers deported from Germany to Kabul, with 20 euros in their pockets from the German authorities to tide them over at the start, can turn to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for assistance. Funded by the German Foreign Office, members of the IPSO international psychosocial organization counsel the returnees.

Germany wants rejected asylum seekers to voluntarily leave the country and aims to offer an incentive. The idea, outlined by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, is meant to help with reintegration once back at home.

The German government wants to encourage rejected asylum seekers to voluntarily return to their home countries with a cash incentive, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told newspaper Bild am Sonntag on Sunday.

For years, Germany has provided rejected asylum seekers and others with financial help to return to their countries, including costs associated with travel and restarting life back home.

On top of that, de Maiziere said families can receive up to €3,000 ($3,570) and individuals up to €1,000 if they voluntarily return home by the end of February.

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"When you voluntarily decide to return by the end of February, in addition to startup help you can provisionally receive housing cost help for the first 12 months in your homeland," de Maiziere said in a direct appeal to rejected asylum seekers.

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Kitchen equipment

According to the news report, in addition to previous payments rejected asylum seekers can receive money in their homeland for rent, building, home renovations or even basic equipment for a kitchen or a bathroom.

The program is called "Your country. Your future. Now!"

"There are opportunities in your homeland. We will support you with concrete help for your reintegration," de Maiziere said.

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The German refugee organization Pro Asyl slammed the offer, calling it an underhanded strategy.

"[The government] is trying to entice people to give up their rights in the basest manner," managing director Günter Burkhardt told the German news agency DPA on Sunday.

Going underground

De Maiziere's offer comes as Bavaria, which deports the most Afghans of any German state, reports problems in finding the people due to be sent back.

The Bavarian Interior Ministry told the weekly Welt am Sonntag that Afghans who discover that they are about to be deported often disappear days before their flight is to leave. It said it suspected that many of the planned deportees, most of whom it says are criminals, were receiving help from German pro-refugee groups to go underground. 

Objections to Syrian deportation plans

Plans floated recently by state interior ministers from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) to restart deportations of Syrians by mid-2018 have meanwhile met with opposition from other leading CDU politicians.

The head of the CDU/CSU bloc in the German parliament, Volker Kauder, told Welt am Sonntag that such deportations were "currently not an issue [for him] with regard to the security situation," adding, however, that "the situation has to be constantly reassessed."

Peter Altmaier, who is chancellery minister and refugee coordinator, also spoke out against the proposal, telling Bild am Sonntag, "The civil war is not over, and many people have fled from the Assad regime, which is still in power."

Altmaier said although many refugees had returned to Iraq, Syria's neighbor, "we haven't seen this development in Syria yet."

Read more: Syria's White Helmets blame Assad regime for hunger crisis

Up for discussion

The deportation proposal, which has been put forward by the states of Bavaria and Saxony, has been approved for discussion at a meeting of interior ministers in Leipzig next week.

It has been severely criticized by the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left party.

The proposed deportations would affect mostly criminals and rejected asylum seekers.

tj/sms (AFP, Bild am Sonntag)