As an asylum seeker in Denmark, one of the most challenging experiences I have had so far was the immigration interview. It all begins with the post you receive telling you when you are required to go and take the interview. At that moment you get butterflies in your stomach and so many things run through your head, so many questions.
By Ochan Robert
I received a letter instructing me to participate in the interview in Sandholm, and that I was supposed to be there by 09.15 and that my failure to appear may lead to my arrest if I had no valid reasons not to appear.
I woke up early, got dressed, and started my two hours journey at 6.40 travelling with two busses and two trains from my asylum center in Sigerslev (80 km from Sandolm). I reached the gate of Sandholm by 08.40 and handed my white card to the security officials at the gate and was given a paper and told to wait in Building 76.
Waiting in Building 76
Waiting in this building is a nightmare. There are all sorts of people waiting, children clutching their mothers’ clothes, old men reminiscing on the old times, many pondering, What next? There are few chairs, so many people have to stand and wait, and even if you have a seat you have to give it up for the weaker people. I stood there, my heart racing, my mind flooded with questions! What am I expecting? What will be the outcome, What next?
At 09.15 the doors opened and there was dead silence; you could hear a pin drop as people’s names were being read by the officials. My name was called out at 09.17 and I followed a young white lady, plus an interpreter. They were courteous – they greeted me and asked me to follow them into another building.
They told me to feel at home and asked if I wanted coffee or tea, which I declined because by now I wanted to head to the toilet. My face was dry, my heart racing, I could feel sweat running down the back of my neck. The interview room looked nice, but cold, there was a big table and a smaller one for my interpreter and me facing each other, with a bottle of water and two glasses on the side. We sat down and I tried to compose myself so that I would not show the immigration official I was scared. Why was I scared, you may ask? I had to relive the experience I went through to get to Denmark. It is an experience I don’t want to relive as the memories still haunt me to this date, so going into the interview room to tell them my story was quite horrific. The questions were tough and I was asked the same question repeatedly, but in many different ways. Some questions made my stomach churn, other questions seemed ridiculous but I had to answer them all.
Experiencing everything again
All the words I spoke were typed, so you could hear the clicking of the computer keys the whole time. Sometimes we would pause for ten minutes and later we had a lunch break. We then resumed the questioning and my agony returned. Each time I was asked to explain in detail the experience I went through and each time I spoke, it was as though I were back home, experiencing the whole episode again, but I did have hope because I knew these immigration people were here to help me, and that I was safe here in Denmark.
At the end of the interview I was read the whole report and told to confirm that it was correct, which I approved and signed at the bottom of each page. I was also told I would get a response in three weeks and was asked which kommune I wanted to live in if I received a positive answer.
Leaving the interview
The moments after the interview felt like I was reborn, I had hope and I was optimistic. I said a silent prayer and left the place. But the joy was quickly filled with questions. How am I going to wait for three weeks? What will the response be? What if I am rejected? What is my future? What is certain is that I am better off here than back home and I am optimistic that things will go well. I am still waiting.
[message_box title=”FACTS” color=”green”]Ochan Robert was granted asylum by the Danish authorities 26th of March.[/message_box]