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France is deporting to Afghanistan despite an explosive situation
A few months after the signature of a secret and informal agreement between the EU and Afghanistan making it easier to forcibly remove Afghans denied the right of asylum in the EU, deportations are starting to multiply in several European countries. It is the case of Germany, Norway and, now, France where six people from Afghanistan, detained in the Mesnil-Amelot detention centre are immanently facing expulsion now. La Cimade denounces these forced removals to a country where the situation is far from safe.

During a big conference of donors organized in Brussels for Afghanistan on October 4th-5th 2016, the EU had discretely announced that they had signed an agreement with Afghanistan to facilitate the forcible removal of Afghans denied the right of asylum in EU member states. This internationally significant text was taken outside a democratic process and has not even been brought to the attention of Europeans parliamentarians. The same method was employed for the EU-Turkey agreement on March 18th, 2016, the objective of which was to stop migrants coming to Greece (from Turkey).

In this way, the EU and it members states want to establish a long-term cooperation with Afghanistan in order to quickly organize the deportations of tens of thousands of Afghans in an irregular situation. More than 80,000 people are currently potentially concerned, including vulnerable people such as unaccompanied minors. Among the details of this agreement, the EU is committing to build a terminal at the Kabul airport specifically dedicated to deportations.

This is edifying, to see that this text makes no mention at all of the political situation and chronical instability (especially safety) in Afghanistan today and for years. Reintegration programs for people deported are only evoke economical issues, like the consolidation of the labour market, as if though the reasons that people were leaving the Afghanistan were only economical. They currently constitute the third largest group of asylum seekers in the EU, after Syrians and Iraqis. In France, 80% are getting (humanitarian) protection, in recognition of the widespread violence across the country. Recent attacks in Kabul are a reminder that Afghanistan is everything but a “safe country.”

Nevertheless, following the signing of this “common dialogue,” some European countries have taken advantage of it to accelerate or resume deportations to Afghanistan. Since December 2016, Germany has deported more than a hundred Afghans to Kabul, many of them were living in Germany for many years and had their families there — this happened despite many protests. It took a bloody attack in the embassies district last week in Kabul, where 150 people died, to temporarily suspend the deportations. France, who had not deported Afghani citizens for many years, had finally started to deport them in 2016.

On December 29th 2016, one person who was first detained for 41 days at the detention center in Metz and then transferred to Mesnil-Amelot the day before their deportation. Another one was released by a judge in extremis just before a flight to Kabul, while another one was deported by first being sent to Norway, where the authorities proceeded to deport them to Kabul.

Since the beginning of 2017, this policy is accelerating. The number of Afghans in detention centres has risen to 80[1]. Seventeen of them are actually at the Mesnil-Amelot detention centre and 6 are facing deportation to Kabul soon. One flight was booked for June 9th – [it has been cancelled, another one is scheduled for June 10th], and the other ones are continuing until June 24th.

At the same time, forced removals are again carried out via Norway, under the scope of the Dublin agreements. Thus, a man who housed at the CAO in Marvejols was in May deported to Norway, which deported him to Kabul on June 3th.

The acceleration of deportations directly to Kabul, or via European countries, is therefore a consequence of this agreement between the EU and Afghanistan. There is no guaranty, even a minimal one, of respecting the rights of the persons concerned. The agreement even makes it possible for the EU to carry out deportations without the agreement of Afghani authorities, when the Afghan consulate does not give a leave-for-readmission during four weeks. Two of the 17 people detained at Mesnil-Amelot are facing deportations in the next few days under this procedure.

To stem migrants and refugees at the earliest possible stage and to increase the number of people deported, the European Union continues to bargain with countries where the safety and political situation is particularly alarming. La Cimade strongly denounces this logic, which is incompatible with respect for fundamental rights and calls on France to stop immediately all deportations to Afghanistan.

[1] Only for the CRA of Bordeaux, Rennes, Toulouse and Mesnil-Amelot, from January 1st to May 31th 2017; the Prefecture of Pas-de-Calais is responsible by itself of 50% of those placements in detention.