Al meanwhile, a special flight from Greece lands in Hanover every few weeks. On board: children, women and men from crisis areas such as Syria or Afghanistan. When you get off in Hanover, you have usually already had an odyssey behind you.
Many of them were on the run for months before they eventually landed on the Greek islands. There they were housed in makeshift, sometimes miserable camps. Babies were “bitten by rats” in wet tents, said Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) recently about the current situation on site. In order to better care for at least some of the migrants, the federal government decided to take several special admissions this year.
Around 2,750 people from Greece should be able to come to Germany, including 203 unaccompanied minors and 243 children or adolescents in need of treatment with their core families. In addition, 1553 recognized refugees in the family network. The Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that 1519 people have now arrived. WELT AM SONNTAG wanted to know how they are doing.
“Many refugees still have hope”
Send at the end of the conversation Sameha Al Zurqa presented her youngest. She should introduce herself, her mother explains. “Lial,” says the five-year-old girl. Then it whizzes out of the room. In front of the building there is a small playground for the refugee children who are housed in Friedland: a swing, a slide, a climbing frame. The boys and girls cheerfully call each other, some even speak a few words of German.
Nothing at the moment reminds of the misery in Greece that is so often reported. The family, she says, was comparatively lucky. The camp on the Greek island of Kos was “good”, says Sameha Al Zurqa, 43. After fleeing from war-torn Yemen, they were initially housed in a tent in Greece in 2019. Then they moved into a caravan: toilets and sinks included. There was food in a canteen.
“That was actually okay,” says Sameha’s partner Basheer Abdullah. Like the E. family, the Abdullah family has already received asylum in Greece. After a year and a half of waiting in summer 2020. They first returned to the refugee camp on Kos. At some point they heard on the news that some of the migrants could go to Germany, says Basheer – without knowing that they themselves could belong.
It was probably a “coincidence” that they were selected, says Sameha and is obviously happy about it. You have heard a lot of positive things about Germany: that they treat refugees in a friendly way, that there are good laws and, above all, a good education system.
She turns to her children and asks what each of them would like to become. She wants to become a teacher, says the elder. She and her partner wanted to find some kind of manual work, says Sameha. Maybe also in the catering industry. They want to see where there is a need. “And then we can do any job.”
At the end, the couple formulates one more wish. They wanted to thank Greece for the admission – and still plead for allowing even more people to travel to Germany. “We know many refugees who still have hope.”
“We lived like rats”
Yasmin E. is suspicious when she steps into the small office in the Friedland transit camp. She does not want to have any photos taken, she informs via the interpreter. The 38-year-old wears a veil and a face mask that only leaves the eyes. Her two daughters, 17 and 19, are also veiled. Only the two sons, both still children, show their faces. You look skeptical.
E. and her children came to Germany at the beginning of December. Like most of the people who were flown out as part of the admission program, the family was first brought to Friedland. The camp dates back to the 1940s. Migrants are given a crash course for two weeks before they are redistributed. Family E. will go to Trier, a city that Yasmin E. has never heard of.
Everything is better than the situation in Syria or Greece. E. says that she lived in Yarmuk, a refugee camp for Palestinians near Damascus. In 2014, Islamic State extremists besieged the area. After her husband’s death, she fled to Turkey. In 2019 she then took a rubber dinghy to the Greek island of Samos. Why? “Living as a single parent with four children in Turkey was difficult,” she says.
Besides, they were not welcome. But not in Greece either – although they later received asylum there. “We had to build a tent ourselves and live in it for seven months.” As women, they would not have wanted to go to the toilets in the camp at night, so they “peed” in buckets, E. says.
Then came a call. “We were told that we should come to Athens the next day.” There she told her escape story in the German embassy. A few days later she was told that she could leave for Germany. “The main thing is that we can start over.”
What a psychologist reports
There are people who do not arrive in Friedland: Because they are so needy that they have to be looked after directly. These include around 200 underage migrants who came to Greece without their parents and some of whom have already been flown to Germany. You will usually be picked up directly at Hanover Airport and housed in the federal states, mostly in youth welfare facilities. A guardian takes over the legal support.
Compared with the families who have already been recognized as refugees there, the situation of young people traveling alone is difficult. They often have relatives in crisis areas or friends in the Greek camps, for whose fate they fear. In addition, unaccompanied minors in Germany have to go through an asylum procedure like every regular asylum seeker in Germany. Refugee organizations report that migrants from Moria do not receive any special treatment.
In Berlin, at least one case is known in which the guardian of an underage Afghan was already threatened with deportation. It is said that he did not take care of the asylum application in time. How the children and young people themselves are doing is difficult to trace. Guardians, who asked WELT AM SONNTAG, do not want to express themselves publicly.
The psychologist Janina Meyeringh reports, however, of a striking number of people who are “badly psychologically stressed or physically ill”. “Young people told us that they had already attempted suicide in Greece,” says Meyeringh, who also looks after minor migrants from Greece at the Xenion psychosocial counseling center. “A youth was acutely suicidal when he got here.”
She does not know whether there have already been therapeutic treatments in Greece. “However, the longer trauma is not treated, the higher the risk of long-term consequences.” One problem: “Many come with the feeling: Now I’ve finally made it,” says Meyeringh. They do not know that their stay in Germany has not yet been secured.
Not everyone is in Germany. Of the eight children who were taken in from Moria in Berlin, one was “moved unknown”, said the Senate Department for the Interior in response to a request from the FDP parliamentary group in mid-December. It is now clear where to go. “Investigations by the Berlin police revealed an indication that the missing child could be in Belgium,” said a spokesman for the Interior Senator at WELT AM SONNTAG. The Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed that relatives are known there. The authorities did not answer how the child could get away without the caregiver’s knowledge.
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