One train may conceal another. While in 2015 Germany hosted hundreds of thousands of the Syrian refugees, it has already for several years been sending back refugees of the former Yugoslavia, arguing that the war there has ceased,and that they could safely “return home.” Asylum is granted only so long as there is danger.
“Go back home? “These people had spent some fifteen or twenty years in Germany, their children had grown up there, there were born, spoke German at school and in the street. when is “home” here, isn’t it the place where you live, rather than where we come from? Is going home having left Yugoslavia, to go back to a country born from its fragmentation ?
Kundera, also a refugee, said they could never return to their country, because over the years they themselves have changed and the country has changed, making return impossible – walking in the country where we came from, but this is not to return to it.
More practically, you are Roma, you speak Serbian, you left Yugoslavia, you are sent to Kosovo because you lived in that part of the country, you have no home, you do not speak the countries language, Albanian , the unemployment rate exceeds 30%. There are many of assisted return programs, but in fact the economy is not working.
The agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan to organize the “return” of Afghan refugees follows the same logic: asylum is temporary, as long as there is danger; regardless of the time you have spent here you remain from there even, if you were born here, you are assigned to your origins.
One difference, the countries of the former Yugoslavia are now at peace, even if the rule of law is not always assured and if significant discrimination may exist, which may be the basis for an asylum application. But the civil war continues in Afghanistan. The preparatory documents of the agreement between the EU and Afghanistan also recognize it, as they indicate that insecurity increased in 2015 and that the number of “incidents” remains high.
It is therefore obvious that the end of the reception of refugees is not due to the situation of the countries from which these people come, but the policy of the host countries. The end of asylum is a decision about migratory politics which does not depend on knowing the fate of the people sent back to the country they have sometimes left many years before.
The argument used to justify removals to a country at war is that some areas may be considered safe. Apart from the fact that the situation changes and we do not know what area will remain safe in the months and years ahead, Afghanistan is a country with no welfare system, where family and clan solidarity are essential. People do not live socially and economically without these ties, and therefore in a region where there is no support network – not to mention the ways in which war and displacement could have destroyed these links.
It is therefore not to return someone to their country, but the deportation of people to another place, people who thought their life was here, in Europe.
Caspar David Friedrich : Monk by the Sea.