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Afghan deported from Germany commits suicide, leading to call for Seehofer to quit

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Afghan deported from Germany commits suicide, leading to call for Seehofer to quit
Photo: DPA
14:41 CEST+02:00
An Afghan man deported from Germany has been found dead in a hotel room in Kabul after committing suicide, officials said Wednesday.

The 23-year-old man, who has not been identified, was forcibly returned to the Afghan capital on July 4th along with 68 other failed Afghan asylum seekers.

He had been staying at a hotel used by the International Organization for Migration as temporary accommodation for returnees while he waited to go to the western city of Herat.

His body was found on July 10th. A police investigation into his death is under way, but an IOM official said the man had "apparently" committed suicide.

Afghanistan's refugees and repatriations ministry spokesman Hafiz Ahmad Miakhail confirmed one of the 69 deportees had killed himself while staying at a temporary shelter.

The German Interior Ministry has confirmed the man’s death. According to Spiegel, he lived in Hamburg where he had been convicted of theft and assault. He came to Germany in 2011 and applied for asylum but his case was rejected.

The apparent suicide is set to heap pressure on Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who had already faced criticism for a comment made on Tuesday in which he joked that the 69 deportations to Afghanistan had coincided with his 69th birthday.

The remarks triggered a storm of protest, with Renate Schmidt of the Social Democrats calling them "shameful" and lacking "any shred of humanity".

Ulla Jelpke, an MP from the far-left opposition party Linke, called the comments "disgusting" and demanded Seehofer's resignation.

Kevin Kühnert, leader of the youth wing of the Social Democrats responded to the news of the suicide by calling for Seehofer to resign.

"One of the 69 people deported on Seehofer's 69th birthday is now dead after he took his own life," Kühnert wrote. "Horst Seehofer is a reprehensible cynic whose character doesn't befit his office. His resignation is overdue."

'No forced returns'

The IOM issued a statement calling for "assisted voluntary return and reintegration" instead of deportations.   

"Forced returns carry the stigma of failure, can encourage unsafe re-migration, and increase risks and hardships for the returnee," the IOM said.  

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the bloody conflict that has been raging since 2001, making the issue of deportations from Germany and other European countries highly controversial.

Germany itself is deeply divided over the issue.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced a strong backlash over her 2015 decision to open Germany's borders to a mass influx of migrants, many from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, that led to more than one million arrivals.

In 2016, Berlin signed a deal with Kabul to repatriate Afghans who had failed to obtain asylum, and began expelling people in December 2016.

So far this year, 148 Afghans have been deported from Germany, official figures show.

Some of the deportees have spent most of their lives living outside of Afghanistan before being deported.

More Afghans are likely to be deported after Merkel's shaky three-party coalition agreed last week on a tougher migration policy that will reduce the number of asylum-seekers in the country.

Arch-conservative Seehofer had threatened Merkel with an ultimatum to curb arrivals, sparking the worst political crisis of her government of just barely 100 days.

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