Refugees with Attitudes

Y. – Burkina Faso

“I am from a village in the southwest of Burkina Faso. I had a big fight with the local authorities there. I could no longer live well there. In 2012, I fled to Germany via Niger, Libya, Greece and the Balkans. I had heard from other refugees that I would find work there.

I applied for asylum in 2012. My application was soon rejected. I then lived for several years in a shelter for asylum seekers in Saxony-Anhalt. I only had language classes there for one month. I only ever had a ‘Duldung’, which I had to extend every six months. My applications for a work permit were rejected.

Through acquaintances I had heard about the possibility of getting papers in Italy. That only cost money, but didn’t help.

While I had received money in the beginning, later I received less money and vouchers. Then I was told to work for 80 cents an hour. I thought that was too little and refused. Finally, my toleration was not extended because I did nothing to get papers. Three years ago I left the asylum centre and moved to Hamburg. Since then I have been living there without papers. Every now and then I find jobs to earn my living. I live with an acquaintance. I have few contacts there – neither with Germans nor with other refugees. But I don’t miss that either, because I’m a rather quiet, reserved person. I’m not afraid of police checks, because I haven’t done anything wrong. When I was checked once, I showed my ‘toleration’. Although it had expired, they let me go.

I got used to living without papers, but of course it would be better if I could live here legally. That’s why I think it’s good that you’re doing such an initiative.”