Over 200 flights canceled as German pilots refuse to deport rejected asylum seekers

Protest against deporting migrants who were denied asylum at Duesseldorf Airport. © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

Pilots in Germany are refusing to deport rejected asylum seekers, leading to the cancelation of more than 200 flights.

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A freedom of information request revealed that 222 scheduled flights were forced to be canceled over the course of 2017 as pilots refused to play a part in returning people to Afghanistan, which is still reeling from years of occupation by Western forces.

Deutsche Welle reports that 140 of the canceled flights were to take off from Frankfurt Airport, which is the largest in the country. Dusseldorf Airport, where activist groups regularly hold demonstrations against deportation, saw 40 flights canceled.

An anti-deportation protester is denied entry into Duesseldorf Airport. © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

Despite a recent increase in deportations, Germany remains by far the most popular destination in the European Union for refugees and migrants. In 2017, it processed more asylum applications than all other EU countries combined.

The most recent statistics from the immigration office reveal Germany has accepted nearly 170,000 asylum seekers this year. It has also rejected approximately 210,000, however nearly half of those decisions have been appealed and about 25 percent of them have been overturned.

People protest against the deportation of refugees at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. © Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

In order to reduce the number of appeals and speed up the deportations the German Interior Ministry has started offering rejected asylum seekers up to €3,000 (US$3,550) to return to their countries of origin.

READ MORE: Germany offers rejected asylum seekers up to €3,000 to go home before March

The new program, dubbed ‘Your country. Your future. Now!’ promises generous payouts to those who decide to return voluntarily. Families are eligible for up to €3,000 and individuals for up to €1,000.

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