African refugees’ frustrations in Germany
Refugees from all across the world – including Africans hoping for a respite from their many problems – have been pouring into Germany. But Germany does not always live up to Michael Williams, a 29-year-old from Nigeria, lives with 20 other African refugees in a hostel in Bornheim, western Germany. His room, which normally would accommodate one single person, is now home to five people. The room is equipped with bunk beds and a TV set which he picked off the street. He looks healthy but sounds desperate.
“Life is not so good,” he told me with a sigh in his voice. “We [refugees] don’t have a choice, we have to stay wherever they put us, and they decided to put us here. I am not happy about this but I don’t have a choice. I have to take what I get. I can’t complain.”
Williams left Nigeria in 2012 after he was overburdened with family problems and poverty. His parents are dead and he was left with his sister whom he hasn’t seen since 2012.
A colleague told him life would be better in Libya than Nigeria. They hired a car in Ogun state, southwest Nigeria, and drove to Libya in 2012. Along the way, five of his colleagues died of hunger and thirst.
Williams has been living in this refugee hostel in Bornheim since November 2014
“We were in the desert for two weeks. The fuel was finished; a lot of people were dying of hunger.” Williams said.
His journey didn’t end in Libya. In June 2014, he boarded a boat to the east coast of Italy but while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the engine stopped and they almost drowned. “We didn’t know where to go, the waves were rolling, rolling, rolling. Suddenly we saw a helicopter flying above and then they rescued us and we were taken to Italy,” William said.
Anxious life in Germany
Bornheim is a city in western Germany with a population just under 50,000. Like many other German cities, it has been allocated a quota of refugees from Syria and other parts of the world. Local authorities provide shelter, food and medical care for the refugees.
Refugees arriving at Munich railway station in mid-September
But the Head of the Department of Social Affairs in Bornheim, Markus Schnapka, said the challenge is how to intergrate the refugees into German society and provide them with work.
“Work is important; some refugees come here hoping to get jobs.” Schnapka told DW. “Unfortunately, there are no jobs for them. Many of them have to go back.”
Schnapka added that there are legal complications in Germany stopping refugees from getting jobs.
Whether you are highly educated or not, no refugee is allowed to work or get a job in Germany until asylum has been granted. Williams has been waiting for almost a year for the authorities to a decision on his application.
According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are around 220,000 asylum seekers in Germany.
Most come from Syria and Afghanistan; still others come from Africa. Most African refugees come to Germany from Senegal, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Somalia and Eritrea. Dw.com