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The New Arab Staff

Germany lifts ban on deportations to war-torn Syria

Hundreds of thousands have died in Syria's civil war [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 December, 2020

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Only 'serious' offenders will be considered for deportation, officials say.
Syrians convicted of serious crimes can now be deported from Germany, the Interior Ministry announced on Friday.

The ministry decided not to renew a ban on deportations to Syria that has been in place since 2012, when the United Nations formally declared Syria had entered a civil war.

The prohibition sought to protect failed asylum seekers from being deported to an active conflict zone or facing arrest and possible torture at home.

From January German courts will be able to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to deport Syrians convicted of crimes, Deutsche Welle reported.

The rule change will likely not result in many deportations due to the continuing conflict, said Boris Pistorius, the Interior Minister for Lower Saxony.

However, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has been accused of pandering to the far-right with the end to the ban.

The vast majority of Syrians in Germany would not be affected by an end to the prohibition.

Deportation would only apply to a small number of serious offenders, such as people convicted of terrorist attacks.

There are currently less than 100 Syrians deemed "Islamist threats" by Germany who could be considered for deportation.

Despite those caveats, refugee advocates oppose removals to Syria on principal.

"The security risks are too great and the return is incompatible with human rights commitments," UN Refugee Aid Managing Director Peter-Ruhenstroth-Bauer told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland this week.

The UNHCR continues to reject the deportation of Syrian refugees, he said.

Syria has been engulfed by conflict for nearly a decade since protests against the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The resulting civil war has claimed more than 500,000 lives and displaced millions of people.

More than 584,000 Syrian refugees currently live in Germany, according to the UNHCR.

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