Germany expels 27 Afghans, ignoring protests
Germany expels 27 Afghan men, despite fierce protests from opponents who say it is not safe to return them to war-torn Afghanistan.
"This morning, 27 people were returned to Afghanistan," the German Interior Ministry announced on Twitter on Thursday.
They include 17 who have been convicted of crimes, two who are deemed "dangerous individuals" and eight who have "stubbornly refused to give their real identities," it said.
The men left Germany late Wednesday from Frankfurt airport, where around 600 people had gathered to demonstrate against the expulsions.
Despite the criticism, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere vowed to press on with sending back "dangerous individuals, criminals and those who refuse to give their real identities."
After more than a million asylum seekers arrived in Germany since 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government came under pressure to halt the influx.
With public unease mounting over the new arrivals, Berlin struck deals, including with Turkey, to dissuade would-be refugees from trying to reach Germany.
Last year, Germany signed a deal with Kabul to repatriate Afghans who had failed to obtain asylum, and began expelling people in December 2016.
The government maintains that certain areas of Afghanistan are "safe" for repatriations, though it suspended deportations for a few months after a truck bomb ripped through the diplomatic district in Kabul in May, killing an Afghan guard at the German Embassy and wounding two employees.
But it has since resumed the expulsions despite meeting with strong public resistance.