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feature 05 Nov 15

Albanians Rejected in Germany Try Holland Instead

Some Albanians whose asylum requests were rejected in Germany are heading for The Netherlands - where their chances are no better.

Vincent Triest

 Photo: Vincent Triest.

Over the course of this year, some 45,000 Albanians came to Germany in order to apply for asylum. Although 99 per cent of these asylum requests in Germany are refused, only a fraction of have been deported back to their country of origin. Some of those who where rejected in Germany are heading for The Netherlands.

Their requests will take at least six months to process there but they have almost zero chance of success. This is because the EU’s so-called Dublin regulations state that the country in which the initial asylum request is made is responsible for handling the request.

In this case a request is useless, as most Albanian asylum seekers applied in Germany before coming to The Netherlands.

Agim, 44, an asylum seeker from the northern Albanian city of Lezha, told BIRN that The Netherlands was the second country in which he had applied for asylum.

“I previously applied in Germany. They rejected me and my family and told us to go back to Albania,” he said.

“But I never want to go back to Albania, which is why I decided to come to The Netherlands to try again,” he added.

In two different asylum camps in Holland, BIRN heard the same story from other asylum seekers.

Arif, a man from the city of Elbasan, told BIRN that after his request was rejected in Germany, he came to The Netherlands to try again. He also took his family with him, unwilling to go back to Albania.

“In Albania the situation is very bad and I could not stay there any longer, which is why I requested asylum,” he said.

“The [Albanian] government has made our life very hard. Should I first pay my electrical bill before feeding my kids? I can’t, so I had to leave,” he added.

Asked if he was aware of the Dublin Regulations, which say that only one country is responsible for examining an asylum request, Arif said he was not.

Photo: Vincent Triest.

The Netherlands is dealing with a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers from around the world, which has increased the time it takes for a request to be considered.

The number from Albania has also risen. Some 431 Albanians requested asylum in the first nine months of 2015 compared to 86 in 2014 and only 32 in 2013.

However, these figures only taken into account Albanian asylum seekers who officially deposited an asylum request. The total number of Albanian asylum seekers housed in temporary crisis venues in Holland is unknown.

Normally, a decision on a request takes up to six months according the Dutch immigration office IND.

All asylum seekers, even those who requested asylum in another country first, have to run through the same procedures.

Owing to the lack of space in regular asylum centres, many asylum seekers are being temporarily accommodated in other venues, such as halls and sports stadiums, which are intended for use in disaster situations.

Photo: Vincent Triest.

Conditions in these venues are very basic, which is they are only used to accommodate people until room is found in regular centres.

Because these venues are not meant for asylum seekers but for emergency situations, such as floods, the centres are only licensed for 72 hours at a time by the local municipalities.

This period can be extended but is the main reason why asylum seekers get moved around in The Netherlands.

Alaman, a 59-year-old bus driver who left Albania a month ago and is waiting to apply for asylum, is staying in a sports hall in the town of Tilburg.

“In Albania, there is no work, no education, no future. There is a lot of corruption and the government does not do anything for us,” he said.

“I could not pay my bills and my children could not go to school any longer,” he added.

Alaman told BIRN that Tilburg was the seventh location where he had been placed, and he had no clue when the Dutch authorities would start the six-month application process.

Alaman said he was worried about his children, who are not attending school due to their pending request for asylum.

In the same hall in Tilburg, Tony, 30, said he was tired of being continuously moved from one asylum location to another.

“I am tired, and so are my small children,” he said. “I want an answer about whether I can stay or not as quickly as possible.

“Nobody tells us anything, we just want to know what will happen,” he added.

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