Inside the Lives of Asylum Seekers in Germany

Establishing a New Life

VINCENT, 27, is from Guinea.

He has been in Germany since March 2014. Vincent traveled first from Guinea to Belgium, where his initial application for asylum was refused. In order to be allowed to apply in Germany, he was forced to stay in hiding for 18 months. Vincent chose to use a pseudonym in this piece, for personal privacy reasons.

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Vincent is originally from Guinea in West Africa, where he says faction politics barred access for him and his family to make a living. He came to Europe seeking new opportunities for work and education, originally applying for asylum in Belgium, where he was rejected. He came to Germany in March of 2014.

According to a European law known as The Dublin Regulation, refugees are required to apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter. Because of this, many seek to avoid leaving a record of their travels as they cross intermediate countries on the way to their destinations. If caught, they can be deported to their point of entry within Europe.

In Vincent’s case, because he had already applied in Belgium, he was forced to wait out 18 months in hiding before being allowed to apply for asylum in Germany. With no official papers, he was at risk of being deported at any time.

Friends and a local group advocating for refugee rights housed him and helped him avoid authorities while he waited. He is now going through the application process.

Nearly 60 percent of Guinean asylum applications processed in Germany in 2015 were rejected.