BERLIN, Feb 22, (Agencies): Despite agreeing to the package of repatriation measures, five German states have decided to halt most such expulsions to Afghanistan, citing the worsening instability in the war-battered country. Meanwhile, more than a year ago, Mayar and Nawar Ballish escaped car bomb attacks in Damascus.
Now the Syrian sisters, both students in their twenties, go to school by train past neat gardens and farms in the quiet hills of Bavaria, southern Germany. Story They have lived there since October 2015. Their story shows what a cultural leap such migrants face, and how hard it can be to match the aspirations of those seeking shelter with Germany’s own goals. Around half a million Syrians have arrived in Germany over the past two years, part of a record influx of more than a million people. Most new asylum applicants have been men, a few of them violent or, according to the security services, covert jihadists. Some Germans feel it is a duty to welcome asylum-seekers. But violence by a few has fuelled hostility.
There are attacks on asylumseekers’ homes more than twice a day on average, according to the Interior Ministry. The sisters, who have leave to stay for three years, are more westernised than some of their compatriots. They wear jeans and choose not to wear the veil. Last Eid, they spent days making and delivering homemade cards to everyone in their town as a gesture of friendship. Even so, says Mayar, “most people … don’t really get the fear and the situation that we left behind in Syria.”
The government stresses that Germany needs to import labour. A study published in 2016 by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research said that without migration, the German working-age population would probably fall by around 500,000 a year between now and 2035. The country needs skilled workers in technical jobs such as automotive and metal engineering, plumbing and software development as well as health and nursing.
The problem is: That’s a mould the sisters don’t fit. Like around one in five recent Syrian arrivals in Germany, they are educated to a high level. They hope to go to university, but people in the school system have pressured them to follow a vocational course. “The worst part is that … people … think we’re dumb, useless refugees who aren’t going to do anything,” Mayar, 21, said.