Several German pilots are refusing to participate in deportations of rejected asylum seekers, according to a report released Monday.
Government documents reveal that pilots cancelled 222 flights carrying Afghan migrants, Deutsche Welle reports. Germany’s main airline, Lufthansa, and its subsidiaries operated roughly 80 of the flights.
The cancellations follow a longstanding debate on whether or not Afghanistan should be considered a “safe country of origin.” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government vowed to step up deportations last December, but the procedure has been difficult to carry out.
Many migrants disappear before their scheduled expulsions, newspaper Die Welt reported Sunday.
“Not just on the day of deportation, but many days before, when we try to deport the Afghans scheduled to be deported, most can not be picked up because they have gone underground,” an interior ministry spokesman told Welt.
Hundreds of deportations have been abandoned because the migrants have shouted, refused to fasten their seat belts or told the pilot they are not traveling on their own free will.
The number of asylum seekers appealing their decision have gone up significantly since Germany stepped up deportations. The lawsuits cost Berlin around 19 million euros ($22.5 million USD) between January and November, according to Deutsche Welle.
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