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Press Statement by Roma Thüringen: All Romanies have to leave – the consequences of the sharpened asylum law

Press Statement by Roma Thüringen: All Romanies have to leave – the consequences of the sharpened asylum law

An affected Romany family from Erfurt report on the coercion to leave the country, their treatment by the German authorities as well as on the rest of society in May 2016

In late April, in the foreigners' registration office or Ausländerbehörde (ABH) we were told that we must leave and that there's no leeway. The ABH employee gave us the coice to now sign the so-called 'voluntary departure', otherwise police would come to our home within three days in order to deport us. She said that although our youngest daughter hasn't received yet a negative decision from the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees, i.e. the asylum procedure is not yet finished.

ABH retained all identification documents. In exchange we only got a paper, the so-called border crossing certificate. The mother of the familiy said, that sometimes she's afraid to leave home because we haven't got documents in case police ask us about our ID. In Macedonia, we made the experience that police beat us Romanies without reason when stopping us in the street.

Even though the youngest daughter (6 months of age) suffers from bronchitis and heart problems for which, from a medical point of view, she needs regular controls the ABH employee said that she's not really ill and that it wouldn't be so bad.

In Macedonia we haven't got housing space for the 5 children and 2 adults. As Romanies who applied for asylum in Germany, in Macedonia, we won't receive support from the social welfare office (Sozialamt) or any health insurance (Krankenkasse).

The Erfurt social welfare office gave us only half the money for the month of May because they assume that we won't be here anymore from midmonth. Apart from that, in early May they already stopped to pay the food allowance for our children in school. In school, everybody knows that we have to leave and that for that reason we don't receive anymore assistance from the social welfare office. Thereupon we asked in school if they could write something for the children in order for them to continue attending the school but they said they could not help because, anyways, all Balkan children must leave. That's reason enough for them to not support us and not do anything.

In Macedonia, in school our children are discriminated against as Romanies and aren't assisted. Teachers exclude them, don't want to have them and the other children's parents forbid their children to deal with them. For that reason, many children don't attend school and, instead, work as rubbish or tat gatherers just like the adults because although there are jobs Romanies don't get them because nobody wants them in the company.

The family's mother has got a growing cyst in the brain and migraine. Doctors recommend her urgent regular controlls and, possibly, a surgery of the cyst. In early May, however, the social welfare office informed the doctors that it won't approve anymore medical help for our familiy, not even for the baby. We have to buy all medicaments ourselves from the farmacy. In the farmacy, the employee said that I must urgently see a doctor with the baby. But that's not possible because the social welfare office don't pay for that. So the doctors refused. Not even in hospital, they didn't do anything except for giving a prescription for a medicament against bronchitis. Even for that we have to pay ourselves. Up until now it hasn't got a positive effect and we're very worried.

In the beginning of the second week of May we received our tickets to Skopje from ABH and were also given back our passports. ABH employees did not care that our youngest daughter is ill.

In the week immediately before the forced departure, we called on the paediatrician and he had a look on our daughter. When he learned that we would have to leave within a couple of days he was very worried about the state of health of our smallest child. The doctor called the foreigners' registration office and the social welfare office in order to talk with the ABH and social welfare office clerks, to point out to them the dangers to our health caused by the journey and to convince them that our baby is not fit for travel. Thereupon the ABH employees consulted their superior and the public health office. Even though the paediatrician disagreed the doctor of the public health office declared our daughter fit for travel. She saw her only briefly and did not really examine her.

What shocked me most as a mother was thee fact that, according to the paediatrician, he was told by the concerned clerk of the Erfurt ABH that he should just confirm that the small child is healthy. He refused because our baby is very ill.

In this last week before the forced departure, we had many appointments with ABH. Temporarily we were offered that we could stay for one more week in order for our daughter to recover. Then it was said only the mother and the baby were allowed to stay and the father together with the other children must leave at any rate. We are asking ourselves how important the welfare of our children is to the foreigners' registration office when they say that our family should separate.

One day before the date of departure everything had changed again. We again got tickets for the next day and were threatened with police in case we'd stay. Apart from that, they announced that we wouldn't receive anymore any social benefits. We are totally shocked by that and have to pack our bags quickly. We are very worried about the future of our children, especially of the ill youngest child. In the afternoon before our departure the clerk of the foreigners' registration office visited us again in the detention center. She let us sign various documents. We don't know why she came to our home and what she wanted from us. It was awkward that she made this extra visit. The caretaker came around, too, to control the apartment.

We've got no choice, we have to leave immediately. We saw many families upon their deportation, that makes us afraid and stressed. Just in mid-April a man from Kosovo was deported from our detention center. He has to take psychotrophic drugs on a regular basis and was in the psychiatry several times because of heavy traumata. He had a certificate that he's not fit for travel and his lawyer told him that because of this he can't be deported and should not be afraid. Some days later, police came between 4 and 5 a.m. and took him as he was, only with his clothes. He had no time to pack anything. The let him only take shoes and a jacket.

In Germany I am very stressed and frightened because of the offices, police but also because of the many nazis, said the family's mother. Out of a sudden, everything goes very fast and they all want to get rid of us. Nobody does anything against it or helps us. Only the paediatrician tried but not even that helped us. That is not normal, they must not treat us this way. My youngest child is born in Germany, she's very small and sick, why don't they want to help not even her? They don't care about our lives but that's not ok. We are human beings, too, and must have the possibility to live healthily and without fear!

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