Over 10,000 people were taken out of Germany by the end of June. The cost of each deportation flight runs into the tens of thousands and is covered by Frontex. In the case of African destination countries, it often involves the use of coercive means.
Although EU governments and the Commission in Brussels are introducing further tightening in the areas of asylum and migration, immigration numbers to Europe are not decreasing. That is why increased deportations are on the agenda: the EU border agency Frontex is setting up a new department under German leadership to carry out and finance mass “returns “, even under coercion. In Germany, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) is proposing to extend detention pending departure from the current maximum of ten days to up to 28 days in the future. Those affected should no longer be warned in advance when a date for pickup has been set.
The number of deportation flights from Germany is also increasing. This emerges from the still unpublished answer of the Ministry of the Interior to a small question of the Left Party.
According to the report, more than half of the 7861 people deported in the first half of 2023 were put on scheduled flights or so-called “collective return flights.” In these, they are escorted by police or private “security escorts.” In addition, there were also 2186 people pushed back, which almost always took place at the German land borders. According to the response, 1375 minors were affected by all these measures.
A large proportion of the measures were so-called Dublin cases: applicants must have their asylum procedure carried out in the country where they first arrived in the EU. These Dublin returns involved 2473 people, an increase of more than one-third compared to 2022. The main destination countries for these transfers were Austria, France, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
Expenses run into the tens of thousands for each of the scheduled or charter flights. The most expensive was a flight from Frankfurt Airport to Nigeria on May 16, which cost almost €400,000 to provide the aircraft for 32 deportees. According to the report, so-called “small charter returns” with up to four affected persons are particularly expensive. Such a mini-deportation from Leipzig to Niger cost €120,450 for one person in February, with four police officers on board for escort. In total, 25 people were deported in nine separate operations. These are not financed by Frontex.
The police use “means of physical force” on a considerable number of those affected. They are placed in handcuffs and ankle cuffs or steel shackles known as “body cuffs.” In the first half of the year, this affected 480 people. What is striking is the distribution of the use of force, which occurs primarily with African countries of destination. This list is headed by deportations to Algeria (72 percent), Gambia (37 percent) and Nigeria (32 percent).
520 deportation attempts by air were aborted, according to the response. As in previous years, the most common reasons were the resistance of the people concerned and the refusal of the pilots to carry them. In 59 cases, the Federal Police refused to take the deportees over. In the case of charter deportations, this occurs much less frequently than in the case of deportations by scheduled flights. This could be due to the fact that “small charter returns” are used when resistance from affected persons or protests from fellow passengers are to be expected.
The Ministry of Interior has classified as confidential the information on which airlines earn money from the deportations. The reason given is that this could expose the companies to “public criticism” and make deportations more difficult. However, the airports from which most of these coercive actions take place are known: This year, these were Frankfurt/Main, Düsseldorf, Berlin-Brandenburg and Munich.
The airlines themselves are also subject to reprisals if they have brought people to Germany without the necessary passport or residence permit. This is a violation of the Residence Act, which can be punished with up to €5,000. In the first half of the year, the German authorities imposed such a fine on companies in 799 cases – a significant increase on the previous year. Per case, this cost an average of €2357.
Published in German in „nd“.