We are sending you this message today, because we believe that Germany is not full of people who would lock us up and close their eyes to our fate. We believe that you, when you hear our message, will not be indifferent, but will try to change the way Germany treats refugees.
When we first came here, we were happy to have a safe place to stay. Many of us have had a long time of uncertainty. It takes a lot to make the decision to flee from your home. Many of us hoped a long time that we could stay in our countries, but it proved impossible. There are so many goodbyes we wanted to say, but we could not say so many.
For a long time before fleeing, we did not feel safe in our homes. While we were fleeing, none of us could feel secure. You cannot depend upon anything. And anybody you come to trust may be torn away from you or may even betray you. So you cannot trust in anything.
Then we finally reached Germany. There is no space to think when you arrive, there are people everywhere, people who are just as confused as you and people telling you what to do. But what we did not know, when we arrived, is that we never really had a chance in Germany.
The German government decided that they do not want people from our country. And then it no longer matters who you are. For this reason we were placed in what the government calls a “transit center”. This means it is not permanent, you are only in transit, passing by. First this gave us hope. We were told we would not stay here long. We heard from other refugees that you only stay in the camp for up to 6 months, then you must be transferred to community housing. We all looked forward to that.
We have various issues to raise concerning this camp. To beginn with we will discuss the basic living conditions. They are unbearable, but this is not the main issue, so we will just describe it to begin with.
Our rooms are small and we have very little privacy. Usually around eight of us share a small room. This is not the biggest problem. But when people are very stressed, it is good sometimes to be alone and to have a space to think for yourself. But we can get by ok with this problem. It is strange though to see that so many rooms are empty on the campus. And at the same time, we have so little space.
When we want an Internet connection, we go to a communal room. It is hard to get Internet in our rooms. This also we can cope with, but it gives us even less privacy, such as when we wish to speak with our families and discuss intimate topics with them. Also in the night and in the winter, we must always go through the cold and dark when we want internet and we must pass the security personell.
To wash our clothes, we all share some washing machines. This is fine, but some people will not let us use the machines. Not everybody can speak the same language, so we do not even understand why they do not let us use the washing machines. But for this reason we sometimes must wash in the night. And then the security guards sometimes tell us we cannot wash by night.
Then there is the issue of food. We are forbidden to cook for ourselves and we do not receive any money for food. Instead, we must go to the cantine in the camp. We eat only once a day. And the food is very bad. We cannot make any requests what we want to eat, but also the food tastes like it is old and has gone bad. Sometimes it is just ok, but sometimes people feel verry sick after eating and cannot keep the food down. Even the security guards often do not eat the food. But they can bring their own food. We do not get money for that. On the issue of food, there has been a sit-in strike. And afterwards, we went into negotiations with the camp executives. They promised we could get food in the morning for breakfast and that we can choose the food. But this was weeks ago. And so far there has been no improvement at all.
Further, there is a big problem with sanitary facilities. When many people share toilets and showers, it is always difficult to keep them clean. Also, we often do not receive sufficient cleaning liquids and toilet paper. Also, there is very little privacy. Women often do not feel safe here and do not feel comfortable using the shared facilities.
When we speak to people in other camps, we discover that we should also have the possibility to receive social and legal support through councelors in the camp. But we have nobody to speak to here. When we have problems of when we are ill, we must search for somebody to speak to, there is nobody to turn to. Some people here have big problems. There are people with mental issues and many who are very stressed and very afraid. This makes it very difficult to cope with the situation here.
But we would not want to complain too much. We would not wish to complain, if we had some hope. Our main problem is that we are given to understand that we are only temporarily here, because Germany has already decided to deport us. We just have to wait here while Germany finds a way to legally reject us.
This becomes clear through several facts:
We do not receive access to regular schools and German courses. After waiting a long time, children now receive minimal schooling within the camp. But how can we learn to be a part of Germany if we cannot learn with German people? We need access to real German classes and we need to meat German people, so that we can understand each other and learn to be part of this society. But every possibility to learn to live in Germany is forbidden to us.
First we were told that the law says we only stay in the camp where we are isolated for 6 months, then we are transferred to real housing. But then we find that our time in the camp is extended and we must stay here for up to 24 months. But what will happen after 24 months? Will the government keep it’s promise then? Or do they hope that in 24 months they can find a way to deport all of us anyway?
We do not understand why we are treated in this way. We are not demanding much. We are not asking for any special rights. What we want is to participate in this coutry, to be allowed to work, to get to know you, to pay taxes and to paricipate in society. Is that not what every country needs from it’s people? If we want to do that, why will nobody let us?
This camp is a hole where people are no longer treated as humans. Human beings need to think and learn. We need to have meaning and a purpose in life and the hope to persue our goals in life. But here we sit every day and wait for a future that may never come. How can we focus on learning German when we are losing hope that we will ever live in Germany? How can people still behave well and respect themselves when they are treated with no respect?
We did not come to Germany to be criminals or to use alcohol and drugs. We do not want that and most of us do not do that. But there are some in these transit camps who behave badly. That is not good. But when you are treated like a beast, it is hard keep your self respect.
Why are we surrounden day and night by fences, barbed wire and security guards? Are we being protected or are we locked up? We are not afraid of the world outside. We do not want to be protected by fences and guards. So we must conclude that the world outside wants protection from us. Why are you afraid of us? What have we done, whom have we threatened? We did not ask to get security guards here. And they do not treat us as equals, they treat us like dirt. The situation varies in our camps, but there are many among us who have been frequently beaten and abused by security personell. So we must understand that we are seen as criminals, just because we ask for protection in Germany.
Here in the camps we live in constant fear. We all have our reasons why we came here. We fear constantly to be forced to return. The deportations occur at night, so early that we have no chance to say goodbye or to contact our German friends. With no provocation, the people who get deported are beaten and tortured and everybody around is terrified to help them. When we try to help, we are abused ourselves. So this is how we are divided.
Even between the deportations, we are now intimidated constantly. Is the police so bored? They come to our camps with dogs and take all our names and fingerprints. Sometimes early in the morning, so we cannot even sleep without fear. They know who we are! They have registered us all!
We hear sometimes that most German people do not know how we live here. That is why we believe that it is not your wish to treat us this way. We want only to tell you what is going on in your country and to work to live together with you here.
We do not feel we are given homes here, we are given prisons.
We are not criminals, we are people like you.