Inside the Lives of Asylum Seekers in Germany

Fleeing War

KHALED, 27, and KHOLOUD, 23, are from Aleppo, Syria.

They met online once Khaled was already in Germany. They are now married and living in Muenster.

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Khaled has been Germany since January 2015. Like roughly 800,000 others that year, he made the journey from Turkey to Greece by boat. For Khaled, crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece took four tries. Even before his attempts to cross by sea he nearly made it onto a plane posing as an Italian man. When he was asked to speak Italian to verify the identity of a fellow Syrian man with fake Italian papers, both their covers were blown.

He now stays in refugee housing in Muenster. He waited nearly seven months for his paperwork to allow him to attend German language courses. He’s not required to stay in refugee housing, but he’s been looking for a new flat for nearly eight months. He says landlords do not want to rent a flat to him because they believe he is living off the government’s money. He is in search of work, but ultimately hopes to return to Syria and help rebuild once the war is over.

Kholoud (who asked not to be interviewed on camera for personal privacy reasons), has been in Germany since December 2015. She worked in Istanbul, Turkey for nearly a year trying to save money for the trip to Europe for her and her family. While working in Turkey, Kholoud says, she was imprisoned for an unclear reason. She was released after being held for more than a month without a trial or a lawyer.

In late 2015, Kholoud’s family joined her and her brother in Turkey to cross the sea to Greece. They had to wait for several days for the sea to be calm enough to cross. On the first attempt, passengers threw their bags from the overcrowded boat to prevent it from sinking. Kholoud lost all her papers, including her passport.

On the second try, they made it to Greece. Kholoud says the Red Cross assisted them from Macedonia to Serbia and then through Croatia, Slovenia and Austria to Germany. Her family continued on to Sweden, but she chose to stay in Germany with her husband, Khaled.