Sweden and Germany at forefront of rise in refused asylum seekers being sent back since EU agreed aid package for country
Britain and other European nations are under increasing pressure to explain why they are sending hundreds of desperate Afghans back to one of the worlds most dangerous countries.
MPs and MEPs have raised questions about whether the EU tied a 2016 aid package for Afghanistan to its willingness to take back refused asylum seekers.
Since the deal, forced repatriations have accelerated. The International Organisation for Migration says 500 Afghans have been forcibly removed back to Afghanistan this year, compared to 200 last year. More than 3,000 have returned voluntarily this year.
As of September 2017, Afghans accounted for the largest number of asylum applications in the EU, with 170,045 pending cases. But they lose more than 50% of asylum appeals far more than Syrians do because some parts of the country, such as the capital, Kabul, are now considered safe.
Human rights activists say people sent home could be killed, and Amnesty has accused Germany and other European countries of breaking international law by deporting at a time when civilian casualties in the country are at their highest for years.
In a report discussed by the UN security council this week, the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, noted that security was parlous throughout the country.
Targeted killings and abductions increased by 16% compared with the same period in 2016, his report said, adding that there were more than 21,000 security-related incidents in the first 11 months of the year.
The UNs assistance mission in Afghanistan said that in the first nine months of 2017 more than 2,000 civilians were killed and more than 5,000 injured.
In Germany, the repatriations have sparked a wave of airport protests, with signs reading Dont send people back to die. Some pilots have joined the movement, refusing to fly repatriation planes.
What the government is doing is awful, said Ramin Mohabat, an Afghan refugee who protested against the departure of 78 asylum seekers at the beginning of December. They are playing with peoples lives and everyone who is sent back is in danger.
I have been all over Afghanistan and I know all the cities, and conflict is happening everywhere. The biggest problem is the Taliban but there is also the Islamic State now and in every city there are different armed groups that just do what they want to do.