‘The refugee camps are not safe for pandemic’3 min read
Asylum seekers live together in the AZC of Budel, says resident Erfan. Suspending asylum procedures makes him sad.
Everyone in the AZC in Budel is doing their best to comply with the measures against corona, says Iranian Erfan. “We are following government directions.” That means: washing hands, sneezing into your elbow and keeping your distance. But the latter is especially difficult. Erfan shares a room with Four men, the bathroom and toilet are shared with 32 people. Seventy residents must use the communal kitchen.
And so he and other residents are concerned about the Coronavirus, should there really be an outbreak. He is also concerned about the health of the residents. “They only give frozen food once a day”
Erfan fled Iran about two years ago. There he was threatened because of his faith, he says. He was brought up with Islam, but converted to Christianity a few years ago. “Islam and all its rules and laws only frightened me, it made me feel empty and depressed.” But there is no religious freedom in Iran, says Erfan. “If you are a Christian or an Atheist, fanatical Muslims see you as a virus that needs to be eradicated.”
“When it comes to asylum procedures, you have plenty of time”
He absolutely does not want to complain about the conditions in the AZC, he emphasizes. “It’s not a hotel, and that’s okay at all.” But, he says, the center in Budel is designed for a short stay, for people at the beginning of their asylum procedure. “It is not made for serving a pandemic.” Now that almost all asylum procedures have come to a halt, it will not become less crowded in the center, he expects.
He has lived in the center since August 2018. His asylum procedure has not yet started, there is no clarity about when that will happen because of the corona crisis. The waiting doesn’t make him angry, but a little sad. A prisoner usually knows when his sentence has ended and he can continue with his life. We don’t know that. ” Jokingly: “Usually you Dutch are so punctual! But when it comes to asylum procedures, you suddenly have all the time. ”
His wife and teenage son are still in Iran. They have occasional contact via WhatsApp, other channels have been blocked by the Iranian government. Erfan doesn’t want to say much about his family for security reasons. He therefore also does not want to have his real name. After completing his own asylum procedure, he hopes to start a family reunification process. These procedures are also largely stalled due to the corona crisis. “I don’t want to disappoint my family. I tell them to keep hope. We are still one, even if we are far apart. ” Can you get that message across? Erfan doesn’t know. “If you haven’t seen each other in such a long time, that’s a very difficult question.”
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