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Refugees being deported from Dresden, Germany, 2018 / Photo: Screenshot/ZDF

First deportation flight from Germany since coronavirus pandemic outbreak

For the first time since the beginning of the corona pandemic, a group deportation flight took off from Frankfurt Airport on Tuesday (14 July).

On board the plane to Islamabad in Pakistan were 19 Pakistani nationals who had been deported mainly from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. This was confirmed by the federal police at Frankfurt Airport to the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The plane had arrived in Frankfurt from Greece and already had ten other Pakistani nationals on board, who were also deported.

The deportees were accompanied by security personnel.

Refugee organisations criticised the deportation flight as “breaking a taboo”. Germany could not guarantee the health of those to be deported, and the flights also endanger the accompanying police officers and flight personnel, said Stephan Reichel of the Bavarian church refugee organization Matteo. The Greens in the Bundestag have also called the action “irresponsible”. It would have been humane to suspend all deportations nationwide in the Corona pandemic.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), on the other hand, welcomed the fact that the federal states enforced the obligation to leave the country even under the difficult conditions. The federal government was supporting the states in this endeavour, he added. The Federal Ministry of the Interior urges the states of origin to resume repatriations soon, Seehofer said.

According to reports, Germany has never officially suspended deportations to non-European countries. However, deportations have been impossible due to the current coronavirus crisis and associated travel restrictions, as many countries had closed their borders.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, there were a total of 5,022 repatriations between January and May, less than half as many as in the same period a year ago.

Austin Ohaegbu

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