Austria deports Afghan sisters

Two Afghan sisters who arrived in Austria in 2016 have been deported from the country, according to several news sources.

According to BBC News, Austrian authorities deported the sisters back to Croatia because this was their first point of entry to the European Union (EU). This is in line with the Dublin Regulation, which states that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach.

After they fled Afghanistan, the sisters Khadija and Zainab Jafari, along with their three children, traveled through Serbia to Croatia, an EU member state. Croatian authorities arranged transportation to Slovenia and the sisters and their children then made their way to Austria. It was in Austria that they applied for asylum.

The sisters appealed the decision at the European Court of Justice last year, but the European Court of Justice ruled in July 2017 that the Dublin Regulation applied in all cases, including exceptional ones. The fact that the sisters and their children were well integrated in Austria was not considered in the court’s ruling.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Christoph Riedl, a policy adviser with the aid group Diakonie, said Austria has deported hundreds of asylum seekers as part of the Dublin Regulation.

Quoting an activist, BBC reported that the Jafari sisters and their children were sent to a refugee camp in the Croatian capital Zagreb on 13 March following their deportation from Austria.

The case has shed uncertainty on the future of thousands of migrants who arrived in the EU at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015-2016.