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What It's Like Inside a German Refugee Center

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Riley Arthur
RILEY ARTHUR © Riley Arthur RILEY ARTHUR

Germany is one of the biggest supporters of the refugee crisis, with reports of an expected 1.5 million asylum seekers entering the country this year. Unfortunately, its refugee centers are nearing capacity, and many are in need of repair.
I recently met Alija Berisha, who became a refugee when the Slovenian government denied him permanent residence after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The "Erasure" or Izbrisani occurred in the early 1990s after Slovenia gained independence. Instating a six-month-long open application process for citizenship and permanent residency, any resident who was not a citizen of the former Socialist Republic of Slovenia was stripped of all legal status or claim to human rights, virtually "turning over 25,000 people into illegal immigrants overnight." It has been called the biggest human rights violation in Slovenia's history. The European Court of Human Rights has demanded victim compensation, and the Slovenian government has yet to pay.
Berisha, 46, was unable to return to his native Kosovo due to persecution and gained refugee status in Germany. Over the last several years Berisha has been transferred to a number of refugee centers within Germany and claims most are at capacity and in worse condition than Gemeinschaftsunterkunft. He recently moved from Gemeinschaftsunterkunft to state-owned housing across the street, where his modest two-bedroom apartment dwarfs the one-room apartment he shared with his family of six for four years in Gemeinschaftsunterkunft. He remains an advocate for the local refugee community.
In multiple protests this year, refugee activists living in the center have challenged the German asylum system. This is a look at Schwäbisch Gmünd in the Ostalbkreis district, beyond the fence into the homes of the refugees who live there.

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