Inside the Lives of Asylum Seekers in Germany

For Family & Opportunity

AHMAD and FARZAM, 16 and 17, are from Afghanistan.

They arrived separately to the German border city of Passau in December 2015. Because they are minors, they were placed in temporary housing there before being relocated within Germany.

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Ahmad and Farzam stayed in Passau at a refugee center for boys for a few weeks before being placed elsewhere. They are both eager to study and improve their German. Ahmad is now in Gummersbach, in western Germany, and Farzam is in Thueringen, in central Germany.

Matthias Schacherbauer, who runs the youth refugee center in Passau, says the number of young people (under 18) arriving to Germany has increased substantially in the last year. From 2014 to 2015 the number of youth asylum seekers increased by 300 percent. In November 2015, an estimated 30 percent of those applying for asylum were under 18. When there were fewer refugees arriving, Schacherbauer says, boys stayed six weeks at the refugee center before being relocated. Now, he says, they can only accommodate them for two to three weeks.

Schacherbauer says many of the boys are the first in their families to come to Europe, in hopes they can establish themselves and obtain papers so their parents and siblings may follow.