“We’re staying here as long as it’s necessary. But we also expect that the Afghan population stays here,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said during a visit to Kabul on Monday, as quoted by N-TV news channel.
“We want the influx of refugees to be stopped,” he said, noting that many Germans question why so many refugees are fleeing Afghanistan when Berlin is providing security assistance there.
He called on Afghans to “stay here to build [up] the country,” noting that parts of the country are stable.
“There are still many [safe] provinces in the north. But also inside areas that aren’t so stable, there are safe areas,” he said just hours after a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul police station, killing at least 20 people and wounding 29 others.
Responding to the attack, de Maiziere said: “Of course, the security situation in Afghanistan is complicated. Who could deny? We also have attacks elsewhere in the world. International terrorism threatens not only Afghanistan, but all of us.”
De Maiziere also warned Afghans not to listen to false information spread by people smugglers, telling ZDF that there is “no welcome money in Germany. There is no guarantee of a job or an apartment.”
The interior minister promised to step up deportations of Afghans from Germany, suggesting the use of current flight routes between the two countries and charter planes.
“All these are possibilities and we will begin with them,” he said.
Germany has trained over 73,000 Afghan police personnel over the 14 years since the NATO mission began. However, currently the focus is no longer on the basic training, but on advising the leaders of local police and on training in specific areas. Berlin currently has only 50 police officers in the country.
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Last autumn, the German parliament decided to stop withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and authorized a small increase in numbers, from 850 to 980. Those troops perform training and advisory roles in the country.
Afghans are the second-largest group of asylum seekers to have arrived in Germany over the past 12 months. The majority are Syrians. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) registered 150,000 Afghan refugees in 2015 – a sharp rise from the 9,700 Afghans who applied for asylum in 2014.