Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Plight of Afghans in Germany ; an Upcoming Court Ruling Could Make It Easier for These Refugees to Gain Asylum

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Plight of Afghans in Germany ; an Upcoming Court Ruling Could Make It Easier for These Refugees to Gain Asylum

Article excerpt

In many ways, the six Wiar children are like most others in this country. They speak fluent German. The four younger ones go to school. They like movies and teasing each other. But, as Afghan refugees still waiting for a decision on their asylum application, they are quite atypical.

"It's absurd," says Sunika, the eldest."We're not allowed to travel," she says. "We're not allowed to work. Right now, I just stay home."

Along with their parents and an uncle, the Wiar children fled war-ridden Afghanistan 10 years ago, when Sunika was 13 and Imen, the youngest, was just a baby.

The family applied for asylum, and was sent to Brandenburg, in the former East Germany, to await a decision. Now, a court case slowly working its way through the German court system may finally bring their wait - and that of tens of thousands of other Afghans - to an end.

To be eligible for asylum here, an applicant must show persecution by the state. Unlike most other countries, Germany will not offer asylum for any reason other than persecution by the ruling government. Because Germany doesn't recognize the Taliban regime that controls 95 percent of Afghanistan, its citizens are not eligible for asylum in Germany.

Last year, Germany's constitutional court said that persecution by a "state-like organization" amounted to the same thing. It sent the case back to the lower court for a decision.

"The Afghans have it the worst," says Horst Gradtke, a Hamburg lawyer who works with Afghan refugees. "They have been left hanging for three years."

Thanks in part to an official relationship that dates to the early 20th century, there are some 70,000 Afghans living in Germany, one of the highest concentrations in Europe. (Hitler believed that Afghans were the original Aryans, and considered them "blood brothers.") Germany's largest community is in Hamburg, where at least 20,000 people support two mosques, several television stations, and a multitude of shops.

To help share the burden of supporting asylum seekers, Germany divides applicants up among its 15 states. The government sees that their basic needs are met, but living conditions are often less than ideal. When an asylum seeker is sent to a place to wait for a decision, he is not allowed to leave the immediate area without special permission. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.