When the authorities decide to close down asylum centres, the enormous personal consequences for the asylum seekers are even greater than imagined. These people come from chaotic places, and many of them have been through traumatic experiences. What they need most in their lives is safety and security. The don’t get that by moving from center to center.
Abir Mohammad came to Denmark two and a half years ago and has been in Kongelunden for six months now.
“I think it is the 7th time I will move from camp to another camp. It is so difficult to me and for my brothers because it is a bad situation. We started to be comfortable here, we have family here and began to know people and make relationships here at Kongelunden. Now we shall start from the beginning: go to a new place and a new camp and make new relationship with people. It is so difficult. They have destroyed us when they move us so many times. We have this bad situation, and they make it worse when they move us from camp to camp. We are so sad now, and we don’t know what to do. It is difficult when someone control our life and make decisions for your life”, says Abir.
Not only does the shutting down of asylum centres make the lives of the asylum seekers unfortunate now, it also makes their future even more doubtful and uncertain than it was before.
“I don’t have any idea about the future. Before I came here in Denmark I thought it was a country that cared about human rights, I had a lot of hope and dreams, and I think about the future and I had a lot of things I wanted to do. After this long time and after what I see from this bad behaviour from the Immigration Service. Even my dreams and my future now they destroyed. I don’t have anything for the future now”, says Abir.
“Life goes to a hard life”
It’s not only psychologically better not to be moved around from centre to centre, for the physical health and the possibilities for the asylum seekers, it is much more fortunate for them to stay at one centre. Syriyani also lives at Kongelunden, and she feels safe there, but she is not sure that she will feel the same someplace else.
“The medical care is very important. All the doctors and nurses are very friendly here. They know what we need, and what our problem is. I don’t know if the new place will give me what I need. Many things are changing. The life goes to a hard life. Now we get more stressful. It is very hard to move very far from Copenhagen. We have close friends here. We don’t know what to do. They must understand our feelings. We are all human”, says Syriyani.
How to keep head up
However, to not lose her mind, Syriyani needs to keep her head up:
“I hope to do the same things as I did in Kongelunden before. Education is important. It was here at Kongelunden. They had special care at Kongelunden, so I hope they have special care. We need education and not feeling depressed. If you make yourself busy, go to school and have a goal, you will be happy. When you get positive, you can start your new life. You can prepare your future in the camp. I really want to say please don’t move people out from Kongelunden. Try to keep people around Copenhagen, because we feel more freedom here. This is from the feelings. Just look at our feelings. Keep us around here. We don’t know how they (the new centre, ed.) will welcome us”, says Syriyani.
Her message is clear: do not move people away from their homes.
“Many people had things to do in Copenhagen, but everybody stopped. It is so hard. The planning for the future is all destroyed, so you must start from new again. It is so hard. Like me, I feel very hard. We don’t know what to do. Sometimes I want to give up, but we will keep fighting. Friends will empower us. We must be strong and keep fighting though life is not easy and people manage our life”, says Syriyani.
Kongelunden has been a special center for vulnerable asylum seekers since 1984. The reason for the closing is that the buildings have been infected by a type of fungus that is dangerous for the health of the people living and working there – and it is very costly to get rid of it. The asylum seekers living in Kongelunden are moving to new places. Some to a women’s center in Dianalund. Others to a newly established center for vulnerable asylum seekers in Jutland with access to similar health care and education as in Kongelunden.