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Report about a refugee camp near Possek in Saxony

A Report from The VOICE Refugee Forum Meeting in Jena, 26/27.02.2008.

Visit in the refugee camp near Posseck (Sachsen), January 2008
Visit at the familiy of Mrs Claudia Omoroghomwan (Nigeria)

Mrs Omoroghomwan has been living in the refugee camp Posseck with her four girls in the age from 6 to 14 since 2006, before they were housed in an refugee accommodation in Reichenbach (Vogtland). Her Daughters are:

  • Sophia 25.2. 1994
  • Sandra 5.3.1995
  • Sonja (1. Januar 2000)
  • Dammiana (28. November 2001)

Claudia Omoroghomwan arrived Germany from Nigeria in 2004 with the two smaller girls while the older girls remained with their grandmother until her death after which they traveled to join her here in Germany.

The youngest amongst the girls is her biological daughter while the other 3 girls are Kids of her Late brother who died together with his wife in a car accident living her the responsibility to take care of the kids as their aunty.

LIVING CONDITIONS IN REICHENBACH, THE FORMER ACCOMMODATION

Before the relocation to the isolated Camp in Posseck, they lived in Reichenbach where they were faced with problems of community toilet with men and therefore created an embarrassing situation for the girls.

She had several complaints on the circumstances to the authorities who only responded with accusations that she as a mother didn’t take enough care of her children.

But Mrs. Omoroghomwan was of the opinion that the girls should have the possibility to visiting the toilet on their own – without the feeling of fear and shame.

There was also a case of another lady who complained about the cockroaches in the rooms but the resounding response from the authority was that cockroaches don’t kill.

Based on all these inconvenience, the family had to spend more time outside with friends and this again led to the accusation that she and the kids were not regular in the refugee Heim.

But in the mean time the accommodation in Reichenbach has been closed due to hygienic reasons.

Isolation in Posseck

The camp is situated in the forest, the usual isolation and exclusion from other houses and people. The next housing estate is about a kilometer away and the distance to the next village, Posseck is again some two or three kilometers.

You can only find a bus connection to Oelsnitz und Hof either of which is about 12 kilometers from Posseck. Oelsnitz is a town in the same Landkreis that offers a bit of infrastructure while Hof is another city of about 50000 inhabitant but, the refugees are not allowed to Hof because of the residential restriction law (Residenzpflicht)as Hof falls within a different district (Landkreis) and morealso in a different state (Bundesland).

The camp is supposedly an accommodation facility for the border police during the DDR era and based on the Barrack like atmosphere, the inhabitants are therefore faced with the depressing effect which anyone could feel even as a visitor.

The area is only lit up by a few weak lamps and even on the only possible route through the forest to the next village, one can find no light on the road.

Until present day,there are times when the area around the house is used as shooting location for Military and Police training.

Social isolation

The four girls share a room of about 30square meters together with Mrs. Omoroghomwan. The girls and a little baby are the only kids in the Heim.

Due to the depressive situation resulting from this sort of isolation, many inhabitants who had options of staying with friends or otherwise had to spend more time outside the Heim, thereby increasing the condition of isolation for those who had no available options.

Mrs Omoroghomwan suffers from the fact that there is nobody to talk to, she lack the normal social contact with other Family women just as the girls are deprived of contact with other kids of their ages.

According to Mrs.Omoroghomwan, everyone in the Heim needs help expecially in the area of being informed on their rights, getting legal support, proper medical attention amongst many others as they are all being faced with a situation of lost hope.

Economic exploitation

The showers are in the cellar and only available for use between the 19-22 hours and there are several occasions where the hot water suddenly goes off living the children with cold water to bath with but yet the housemaster complains that the children use too much water.

We do not receive cash but Coupons with no possibility to get the preferable food hence one must settle with the available in the shop located in the heim and open only 2 times weekly {Monday and Thursday from 10 – 15hrs} and strangely enough, the commodities are so expensive and exploitive as these poor fellows are being forced to pay so much for products they could afford much cheaper in other shops like Edeka if given the opportunity.

For example,750 g Gut und Günstig Honey Wheat (Weizenpops): 3,99 Euro Multivitaminnektar 89 ct.Thunfish 90 ct. The commodities

For example in this supermarket lot of money for is charged for productsof the cheapest Edeka-trademark (gut und günstig).

And as for clothes, the family receives vouchers value of 120 every two months but there is only one available shop{KIK} where you can buy Cloths but not shoes hence the little pocket money has to be spent for shoes.

Difficulties of visiting school

Until February 2008, the children were deprived from going to school as well as denied school visitation till the summer 2007.

According to Mrs. Omoroghomwan, the request for school for the children was met with the authority’s response that the girls were still too young for school until this last autumn when they were given the opportunity to go to school and at this time the second youngest was already 7years and 9months.

Since, the girls cannot speak the German language, the teacher had requested they visit a German language class before going to a regular school. Mrs Omoroghomwan still cannot understand why they were denied these possibilities earlier on.

The living conditions are practically affecting the children’s going to school because the responsible social department of the foreigners’ office has refused to take the transportation cost for the kids to school.

Apart from that, the school is in Bad Elster, which is difficult to reach by public transport (app. 30 km via Oelsnitz)and the girls are expected to be at school by 8am hence they have to take the bus at 5.20am, living the house by 5am and walking through the dark forest.

For some weeks now, AWO has been responsible for the transportation by a kind of Taxi provision to Oelsnitz, meaning the girls would have to leave the house at 6.10hrs which is rather manageable against the public transport condition but this is still difficult, because the girls must be up as early as 5am to spend between 3-4hours daily on their way to and from school.

Medical supply

The closest possibility of visiting the Doctor is Oelsnitz and this would cost 3,20 Euro for just a trip and at anytime Mrs.Omoroghomwan had an appointment with the Doctor, she must have to go to Plauen which is about 22 km from Posseck with the daily ticket cost of 7 Euros but she only receives 120 Euro as “monthly pocket money” for her entire family.

Mrs. Omoroghomwan has to regularly visit the doctor at least 4 times in the month for her neck problems but she cannot make without money.

When the children falls sick, the problem still remains as there is no transport fare and on occasions where the girls health situation is very bad, the doctor would only turn up at night and on occasions when we run to the housemaster for help his reply would be just showing us the fact that its still day light and we can go to the doctors clinic on our own- meaning that we have to walk about 20 minutes through the forests to get the bus no matter how ill one may be.

Health problems and control

Based on this depressive condition of living especially as it affects the future of the Children; Mrs.Omoroghomwan was in November 2007 admitted for days in the psychiatric hospital after being examined of suicidal tendencies resulting from depressive disorders. During this period the children were taken to children’s home.

Claudia Omoroghomwan has been suffering from chronic pains in the neck. During the last autumn, she had heavy pains spreading from the neck to the rest of the body resulting in the call for an emergency doctor attention on a Sunday.

She was taken to the hospital immediately with the expectation of getting a proper medical examination and treatment only to be released to return back to the camp to stay with her children as the doctor had said to her even before he made any examination on her.

She assumes that an intervention of the foreigners’ office was the background for this decision and strange enough also, she never got any confirmation or report on her illness from the Doctor.
It is still not clear why it was not possible that the children stayed in the Kinderheim while she gets the adequate doctors attention at the hospital(?).

On the other hand, she was faced with threats of taking the girls to the Kinderheim because she had traveled to a doctor of confidence in Dortmund based on the Asylum situation of the youngest daughter Dammiana who fled Nigeria for the threat of female circumcision.

During the trip they encountered Police control and found to have left the district without permission from the foreign office where she had been refused permission with the condition that she must have to present a written invitation.

The information of the so called Residentzflict violation was transferred to the local Youth Office from where there has been continuous threat of taking the girls away from me but the girls have protested against this attempt by the youth Office.

That is the extent to which the residence obligation law- a racist special law that violates the natural right of personal freedom, standing as means of control even on personal decisions within family.

But this law contradicts that of a normal German family –i.e. the independent decision to travel with your own children for whatever reasons – For Mrs Omoroghomwan, this exercise of her freedom was not only seen as a criminal offence but more also as a lack of parental responsibility that allows them to question her Fähigkeit to take care of her own children.

In this case, it is clear that this law violate the basic human right of freedom of movement as well as restricting the parental right to decision making on the child development, that is to say, the State decides the wellbeing of the child and not the parent as long as it concerns asylum seekers.

In the meantime, there is already a proposal that Mrs.Omoroghomwan could move in to the Children Hostel with the girls. This offer on one hand could reduce the level of isolation but on the other hand rob her independent decision in the development of the girls.

On her experiences so far from the authorities, Mrs Omoroghomwan explained: “Anytime you ask the authorities about something, they make the situation worse.”

Being fed up of all these ever worsening situations, she applied to leave Germany for another country in 2007 but up till date, there had been no reply to her request.

Perspectives ?

In the main time, Mrs.Omoroghomwan and the girls desire to be relocated to a private apartment in a bigger town such that they can be able to overcome the long problem of social isolations, the opportunity for the girls to attend school on the regular basis and to attend church meetings as strong Christian believers.

All attempt by AWO to the foreign office on the issue of our relocation to private accommodation has been replied bz the fact that we are under the toleration {Duldung] and there is the likely possibility of our deportation at anytime.

And on the issue of our asylum application, we still await the decision from the Bundesamt.

Mrs. Omoroghomwan further lamented:

“Whenever we address the authorities on our situation, they make our situation worse and try to make us feel that we have no right to complain.

All the girls are at the moment faced with psychological problems such that they cannot interact with other kids and you could see that they are being traumatized by fear.

Our demands are:

A quick reply from the Bundesamt

That the Foreigner Office should release us to private accommodation.

  • because the children need contact to other children
  • because they need to attend a school in the same town without traveling two hours to get there and two hours to get back
  • because nobody can live in permanent isolation
  • because I need contact to other woman and other families
  • because we are suffering from serious psychological problems in that place
  • because we need regular access to my doctors’
  • because I am scared about the future of our children
  • because our life is in danger
  • because we need a live a live for myself and the children.”

This text was first presented and discussed in the meeting of The VOICE Refugee Forum on the 26 and 27 February 2008 in Jena with Mrs. Claudia Omoroghomwan from Posseck.

We call on everybody to join us to close the isolation camps in Germany
http://thevoiceforum.org/node/754

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