German church network shelters Afghan deportees

The network of church organisations has helped hundreds of refugees to avoid deportation to dangerous destinations.

| | Human Rights, Europe, Refugees

Cologne, Germany - The deportation order came as a shock. "Be ready at 2am", the letter read, "for a transfer to Dusseldorf Airport where you will be flown back to Budapest."

But only two days before the deportation, Caritas and Church Asylum transported the family by car from their temporary accommodation in northern Germany to an Evangelical Church in Cologne, where they were given shelter and the Church Asylum prepared a legal battle.

According to its website, Church Asylum is a network of various Christian parishes in Germany that aims to "protect people from deportation, if there is a reasonable doubt about a safe return". Currently, there are 303 churches in Germany in the Church Asylum network, hosting a total of 473 people, of which 110 are children.

"What we are doing is illegal, and the Migration and Refugee Ministry has the right to arrest us," said Pastor Rollbuhler at the Church in Cologne. But, he said "Police in Cologne recognise Church Asylum and leave our people in peace."

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