The first Afghans to be deported from Germany under an agreement between the two countries have arrived in Kabul.
The group of 38 men were flown on a charter plane from Frankfurt.
Germany’s interior ministry says the deportations are taking place under a deal reached with Afghanistan in October. Der Spiegel said on its website that the Afghans would ultimately be sent back to their home regions.
“I was living and working there (Germany) for the last five years, even paying taxes, but I was deported because Afghan asylum cases are closed. Afghans can not be given asylum, they have to leave,” said Ali Hussaini, a young Afghan national who was among the deported group.
Those returning to their home country showed mixed reactions. Germany’s response to the huge influx of migrants last year was to speed up the asylum process.
Syrians are most likely to be accepted, but whereas parts of Afghanistan are considered dangerous, others are deemed safe.
Matiullah Azizi, one of the deported Afghans, kissed the ground as he emerged from Kabul airport.
He alleged that German policy had changed since an Afghan asylum seeker was accused of raping a German student.
“All Afghanis are deported. They are not deporting Iranians, they are not deporting Pakistanis but why Afghans?” he said.
German figures say people from Afghanistan are the second biggest group of asylum seekers in the country after Syrians.
The influx of migrants and subsequent events have prompted concerns about security and integration, boosting support for anti-immigrant groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
A second plane to send people back to Afghanistan is reported to have been chartered for the beginning of January.