BERLIN (AP) — Germany will deport about 50 Afghans on Wednesday after their asylum bids were rejected, a pro-refugee group said, as the government seeks to reduce the number of migrants allowed to remain.
After allowing in 890,000 migrants last year, Germany has sought to manage the influx by speeding up the asylum process for those most likely to receive it, like Syrians fleeing civil war. In turn, authorities have accelerated the expulsion of unlikely candidates for asylum like people seeking to escape poverty in the Balkans.
Afghans have fallen somewhere in the middle, with some areas of the country considered safe and some not. But few have been deported because Germany lacked a proper agreement with Afghanistan. Instead, many have been convinced to go home voluntarily with financial incentives.
But the German and Afghan governments have just signed a memorandum of understanding on deportations a few weeks ago, paving the way for about 50 to be sent home from Frankfurt on Wednesday night.
The deportations were announced by refugee aid organization ProAsyl. The German government says it will confirm deportations when they happen.
Petra Haubner, a lawyer from the Bavarian city of Passau, told The Associated Press that her 20-year-old Afghan client was detained by police at his shelter and on his way to Frankfurt to be deported.
More than 12,500 Afghans have received orders to leave the country, but haven't yet been deported.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said in recent weeks that Germany needs to toughen its stance and ensure that migrants who are refused asylum leave the country.
"We need a national effort to return those who are rejected — that is undisputed and we are working on that at present with great vigor," Merkel told a conference of her conservative bloc's youth wing in October.
Critics say that it's not safe to deport people to Afghanistan because of Taliban control in some parts of the country and frequent suicide bombings. The German government claims that migrants will only be returned to safe regions.