Throughout 2020, Germany conducted numerous removal flights despite concerns regarding the dangers they present for deportees and their home communities as a result of the pandemic. (For more information on deportations from Germany, see 17 July update on this platform). Most recently–and amidst spiralling infection rates in the country–Germany deported 26 rejected Afghan asylum seekers on 12 January, from Dusseldorf to Kabul. Reportedly, this marked the 35th deportation flight to Afghanistan since 2016. Rights advocates condemned the deportation, highlighting the danger that returnees face in the country–both from surging violence and the threat of coronavirus. (Indeed, the UN has warned that five million more Afghans will be in need of assistance in 2021 due to the pandemic and conflict.)
While many countries that are rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programmes have failed to specify when non-nationals might expect to receive the vaccine, in late 2020 Germany announced that asylum seekers living in shelters would be amongst the second group to be vaccinated. It remains unclear, however, when immigration detainees may expect to receive the vaccine.
According to several media reports, several German states have drawn up plans to place German nationals repeatedly flouting self-isolation rules in establishments including detention centres and refugee accommodation facilities. Reportedly, states including Saxony, Baden-Wurttemburg, Brandenburg, and Schleswig-Holstein are in the process of preparing areas in which nationals can be held–including the construction of a new unit within a refugee facility in Saxony. According to the Telegraph, news of these plans has drawn widespread criticism in Germany, with some comparing them to the use of political prisons in communist East Germany.
- G. Nix, “Germany: Quarantine Violators Will be Sent to Refugee Camps and Detention Centers,” 18 January 2021, https://www.theenfield.com/2021/01/germany-quarantine-violators-will-be-sent-to-refugee-camps-and-detention-centers/
- Al Jazeera, “Failed Afghan Asylum Seekers Deported from Germany Land in Kabul,” 13 January 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/13/failed-afghan-asylum-seekers-deported-from-germany-land-in-kabul
- The New Arab, “Germany Deports 26 Afghan Asylum Seekers to Kabul Despite ‘Threats to Life,’” 14 January 2021, https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2021/1/14/germany-deports-26-afghan-refugees-despite-threats-to-life
- M. MacGregor, “Germany: Asylum Seekers Second-in-Line for Coronavirus Vaccine,” InfoMigrants, 28 December 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/29327/germany-asylum-seekers-second-in-line-for-coronavirus-vaccine
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in Germany – 2020 Report,” August 2020, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/germany#country-report
- J. Luyken, “Germans who Keep Refusing to Quarantine Could be Put in Detention Centres Under New Covid Rules,” The Telegraph (£), 17 January 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/17/germans-keep-refusing-quarantine-could-put-detention-centres/
- German Police Officers Escort a Rejected Afghan Asylum Seeker to Board an Aircraft Heading to Kabul at an Airport in Leipzig in August 2019, (Michael Kappeler, DPA, “Failed Afghan Asylum Seekers Deported from Germany Land in Kabul,” Al-Jazeera, 13 January 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/13/failed-afghan-asylum-seekers-deported-from-germany-land-in-kabul)