German authorities sent asylum-seekers back to Ethiopia despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the Tigray conflict. Opposition politicians and human rights groups have condemned the move.

December 28, 2020, was a day Mimi T. is not going to forget. All her hopes were dashed after she was forced on a flight back to Ethiopia with four German police officers in tow. According to advocacy groups, Mimi had come to Germany in 2009 after facing prosecution by the Ethiopian government for being an opposition member. She had also suffered from sexual abuse and arrest. In German, Mimi was treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“She was in a dire psychological state and had tried to commit suicide while in detention pending deportation,” Wiebke Judith, of German advocacy group ProAsyl, told DW. “In the end, she was dropped off in Addis Ababa in a wheelchair, still wearing her prison attire. She has no family there and didn’t know anyone.”

Mimi T. wasn’t the only asylum-seeker deported back to Ethiopia last year. In late November, 10 people were flown to Addis Ababa on a chartered Ethiopian Airlines flight.

The German government says that all legal provisions were followed. “The legal requirements for the admissibility of a deportation result from the Residence Act. Prohibitions of deportation are always examined on a case-by-case basis. For example, a foreigner should not be deported to another country if there is a considerable, concrete danger to life, physical well-being or freedom,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s Interior Ministry told DW in a written statement.

But critics disagree. “Ethiopia is a country affected by civil war, flooding, the coronavirus pandemic, and a locust plague.

There is no sign that the conditions will improve soon, deporting people there in such a situation is not only unacceptable but also inhuman”, Ulla Jelpke, a German Member of Parliament for the opposition Left party, told DW.