German pilots have stopped more than 200 flights to deport Afghan refugees
Germany is still dealing with the overwhelming impact of the refugee crisis, as fresh government data reveals.
According to Deutsche Welle, in the course of 2017 German pilots stopped 222 planned flights who were supposed to repatriate refugees to Afghanistan.
Last year, the European Union signed a deal with Kabul to start deporting asylum seekers back to “safe areas” in Afghanistan, which drew criticism from human rights groups such as Pro Asyl. Amnesty International said nearly 10,000 Afghans are at risk of torture, kidnapping, and death in their home country.
The majority of the stopped flights, 85, came from the country’s main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. Around 140 refusals occurred at Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt Airport.
Some 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where Pro Asyl and others campaigners staged the #WelcomeUnited protest against deportation of asylum-seekers.
A spokesman for Lufthansa, Michael Lamberty, told local Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung that pilots sometimes had to cancel flights due to security concerns.
“The decision not to carry a passenger is ultimately made by the pilot on a case by case basis. If he or she had the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse to transport the passenger,” he said.
“Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board.”
In 2017 so far, Germany processed more asylum applications — 388,201 — than all the other EU countries combined, according to the German immigration office (). About 210,000 of these request have been rebounded, but they usually are accepted in appeal case.
The lawsuits have cost Germany about €19 million ($22.5 million) from January to November, an increase of €7.8 million compared to 2016.
To crack down on these costs, the government has proposed a controversial program to give refugees a €3,000 bonus to voluntarily move back to their home countries.