Afghanistan Will Only Take Back Refugees Who Leave Europe Voluntarily

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Afghanistan’s minister of refugees has said his country will only take back refugees who leave Germany voluntarily, responding to the Germany’s announcement that refugees will be required to leave.

German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere said Tuesday Germany will send refugees home after the conflicts in their home countries are over. Responding to significant criticism from German voters, chancellor Angela Merkel also stated Saturday refugees should eventually be sent home.

“We agreed with the German interior minister to only work on issues surrounding voluntary returnees,” said Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi in an interview with German news outlet Deutsche Welle. “We have been very clear in our talks with the German minister that forceful deportations require more negotiations, agreements and further discussion. At the moment, our talks are only focused on voluntary returnees.”

A total of 1.1 million refugees are believed to have entered Germany in 2015. Afghans are the second largest group seeking refuge in Germany behind Syrians. Around 150,000 Afghans put forward applications to resettle in Germany in 2015 alone.

While there is deadlock on many of the questions surrounding the refugees issue, both Germany and Afghan officials agree that providing a financial incentive for refugees to return home is one option.

“Providing financial aid to returnees is one of the incentives that both Afghanistan and Germany have agreed upon. However, the specifics have not yet been decided,” said Balkhi.

The German government has faced tremendous pressure from voters to put a stop to the massive influx of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries currently embroiled in conflict. A recent poll shows 40 percent of German voters want Merkel to resign over her handling of the refugee issue. German frustrations with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) have led to the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

While there is speculation that major deportations of refugees from Germany could begin within months, it is unclear as to when Germany officials will consider conflicts in over, given that many are unconventional. The conflict in Afghanistan itself is now entering its fifteenth year.

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