David's story continued ...
I thought I would outline some of the procedures I had to go through when I first came to Germany.
First of all an application has to be submitted in German to the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (Bundesamt). The Bundesamt takes an applicant's fingerprints and adds this bio-data to the application form. The Bundesamt can either accept or reject the case depending on the strength of the reasons for fleeing the country and what dangers the asylum seeker faces back home.
If the case is rejected by the Bundesamt the asylum-seeker can apply to the court. Asylum cases are rarely forwarded to the high court.
I entered Germany in mid 2002 and it took me a little more than two years to be recognised as a refugee according to the 1951 Convention on the Rights of Refugees. At first the Bundesamt rejected my case. So I applied to the court. The court asked me the same questions as the Bundesamt and demanded the same documents proving my identity. My reasons for leaving the country and the documents I provided were thoroughly scrutinised. The court then declared a positive verdict.
Any decision by the court must also be accepted by the Bundesamt, which they did, and the foreign office issued me a travel document with a two-year visa.
A refugee can travel to any country in the world except the one he or she comes from and can apply for a permanent residence permit after seven to eight years. He or she can then apply for citizenship.
Asylum seekers, like foreign students, are required to apply to the employment office for a work permit. The work permit granted to asylum seekers is valid for six months to one year. The employee needs to reapply for the renewal of their work permit when it expires.
When I first arrived I applied for a work permit but it was denied and I only got employment after I was recognised as a refugee. A recognised refugee obtains an unlimited work permit.
The rate of unemployment in Germany has been on the rise in recent years. The inclusion of more European countries in the EU has not only made things expensive, it has also to some extent squeezed the employment market as citizens of the new EU member countries come to economically superior countries. Germany has become a destination for many.
Nevertheless, some of the asylum seekers and most of the refugees (applicants whose cases are yet to be decided are labelled asylum seekers and those whose cases are decided and recognised are known as refugees) find employment.
Most of the refugees end up in manual or menial work. I work in a kitchen.
Asylum seekers or those who have no one to depend on are provided with apartments and small financial support for the purchase of food. Every individual in Germany is liable by law to have health insurance. An employer registers his employees to the insurance companies for this.
The Social Office, a government department which provides public welfare services, meets the healthcare expenses for individuals who have no employment and for asylum seekers. Those who become jobless are provided with 60% of the salary they used to earn in their most recent job.
Moving to the west was a dream of mine when I was frustrated by languishing in a refugee camp with nearly no hope of repatriation. So I decided to quit the camp and have landed in this great country.
I have a job and a good place to live in. On the other hand I miss my family, friends and the food back home. And of course I miss playing in local volleyball and football tournaments.
More than anything I missed my beloved Bhutan where I was born and brought up.
Repatriation is not the complete solution to the refugee imbroglio but it is one step closer to a permanent solution. The Bhutanese refugee issue is in actuality a political crisis and needs a political outlet for the amicable, durable and comprehensive solution.
The repatriation of every single refugee is of the utmost necessity. But unless the door to a homeward return opens I would suggest to all my countrymen in eastern Nepal to accept a third country resettlement offer.