Refugee Crisis Germany Doubled Deportations in 2015

Germany last year deported nearly 21,000 refugees who failed to receive asylum. That was nearly twice as many as the year before. More than 37,220 migrants agreed to leave the country voluntarily after being asked to do so.
Iraqis at Tegel airport in Berlin, waiting to go back to Erbil, Iraq.

Last year, 20,888 people whose asylum applications were rejected were forced to leave Germany, according to unreleased figures obtained by Handelsblatt Global Edition from the interior ministry. That was nearly double the number of deportations in 2014, which were 10,884.

Another 37,220 people who failed to receive asylum left the country voluntarily when asked by authorities to do so. Nearly 90 percent of them came from the Western Balkan countries, including Albania, Kosovo and Serbia.

Altogether, the number of willing and forced departures totaled 58,108 for 2015.

The figure, according to the ministry, could be higher, given that some people who were not granted asylum may have left the country without notifying officials of their departure.

In recent weeks, German authorities have noted repeated problems in expelling Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, saying their countries of origin were often unwilling to take them back because of missing travel documents.

Still, the total is a only small fraction – just over 5 percent – of the more than 1.1 million refugees who were registered last year in Germany. Of those, 476,649 registered for asylum. That is the highest number of refugees ever recorded in post-war Germany.

The country is, by far, the biggest destination of refugees fleeing war, terrorism and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

Germany is in close talks with three North African countries, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, to expedite the return of failed asylum applicants.

In recent weeks, German authorities have noted repeated problems in expelling Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, saying their countries of origin were often unwilling to take them back because of missing travel documents.

Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue last week when she met with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. But Mr. Sellal warned it was essential to first determine that the people being deported “are really Algerians.”

German and Tunisian authorities have meanwhile reached an agreement "in principle" to allow failed asylum applicants from Tunisia to be returned with so-called laissez-passer temporary identity documents. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced the agreement on Tuesday following a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Khemaies Jhinaoui in Berlin.

Members of Ms. Merkel's conservative Christian Social Union party have called on the federal government to declare Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as safe countries to deport citizens from these countries more swiftly.

At the weekend, officials said they were considering setting up special hubs for citizens of the North African countries to fast-track their deportations,  similar to centers being established for people from the Balkans.

Balkan countries also topped the list of asylum seekers in 2014, prompting the Germany to declare these countries "safe" countries of origin, making their citizens almost ineligible for asylum.

Albanians were the largest single national group seeking asylum in Germany in 2015 after Syrians last year, according to a ministry report. Last year, 54,762 people from Albania sought asylum in Germany, with Kosovars the next largest group filing 37,095 requests. Citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq came fourth and fifth.

Serbia came next - responsible for 26,945 requests - and Macedonia followed, generating 14,131 requests.

 

John Blau is senior editor at Handelsblatt Global Edition. To contact the author: [email protected]