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Austria and Czech Republic keep hard line on deporting Afghans

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Austria stuck on Saturday to its hard line on sending home Afghans whose requests for asylum fail even as Taliban insurgent advances prompted other European Union countries to reconsider similar stances.

“It is easy to call for a general ban on deportations to Afghanistan, while on the other hand negating the expected flight movements. Those who need protection must receive it as close as possible to their country of origin,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told the APA news agency.

Austria was one of six EU countries that insisted last week on their right to forcibly deport rejected Afghan asylum seekers. Three of the countries — Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands — have since changed course.

The Oesterreich newspaper published an opinion poll showing up to 90% of respondents backed the Austrian government’s line.

It linked the support to a high-profile criminal case in June in which four Afghans in Vienna are suspected of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl who lost consciousness and died.

The Czech Republic will continue with deportations of unsuccessful asylum seekers back to Afghanistan despite the deteriorating security situation, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek was quoted as saying on Friday.

“The Czech Republic is treating each asylum application individually, it examines the reasons thoroughly to determine whether to grant (asylum) or not. We won’t make any blanket exceptions,” Hamacek told the news website www.idnes.cz.

Czech officials have also been debating how to help Afghans who assisted Czech troops deployed with the NATO mission in Afghanistan, whose lives are now in danger from the advancing Taliban. Human rights organisations have urged the government to act fast.

Photo: People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait to cross the border after it was reopened at Chaman, Pakistan. EPA-EFE/AKHTER GULFAM