A file photograph showing refugees in Bavaria, Germany
A file photograph showing refugees in Bavaria, Germany

Many refugees return to their home countries because of the money the German government offers them for repatriation. But one Syrian family has decided to leave Germany for different reasons.

"I was forced to leave my country and come here," Khaled said. He is one of many Syrian refugees who came to Germany because of the war in Syria, but is now thinking of leaving and returning to Erbil in Iraq until the situation gets better in his city of al Qamishli in northern Syria. 

His trip to Germany wasn't easy. He had to sell his car and house to get the money for the traffickers. He left al Qamishli alone without his wife or daughter. His first stop was in Turkey, where he met the traffickers who said they would get him to Europe, he told InfoMigrants. 

He said the traffickers brought him to Bulgaria. "We were about 30 people.We spent three days traveling to Austria and then reached Germany."

Germany was not Khaled's destination, he wanted to go to Britain. The Syrian refugee had studied English literature and his qualifications might have helped him there. "I remained in Germany because it was the only European country that granted Syrians residence for three years in a short period of time - in less than three months," he said. 

But things did not go exactly as Khaled planned. He got full asylum after nine months, but the long wait created many unexpected problems. "I have accumulated debts of around 7,000 Euros because of the cost of living for my family in Syria," he said.

It is true that Khaled's asylum request took a long time, nevertheless, he was lucky, because he could manage to bring his family to Germany, unlike many others who are still waiting for their loved ones. But this was not enough to convince Khaled to remain here. He is determined to leave. The Syrian refugee says that the new laws for refugees are very restricting.

"My wife has three brothers who live in the northern German city of Kiel. We cannot move in with them, because the new integration law says that asylum seekers have to remain in the city or town he is sent to when he applies for asylum. According to Khaled, this law increases the fragmentation of Syrian families.

Refugee assistance organization Pro-Asyl also criticized the law for not allowing asylum seekers to choose their place of residence. "The psychological and social conditions of the asylum seeker must be taken into consideration. He needs to stay close to his friends and relatives," the group said.

The law on housing and residence may restrict refugees and prevent them from choosing their place of residence, but the goal of the German government is the equal distribution of asylum seekers and prevent the isolation of refugees from German society. 

Residence restrictions however do not apply to refugees who are moving for employment purposes or attending classes at German universities.

Integration laws should be reviewed

Khaled also demanded that the German government review its integration courses, Authorities have made it mandatory for every asylum seeker to attend integration courses even before asylum is granted. In these courses, the asylum seeker learns German and  gets to know mores about Germany's history, its laws and values.

"It is illogical for the German government to force older people to participate in integration courses. If the person doesn't attend these classes, they must forfeit social aid," Khaled said. "It is impossible to learn the language without communicating with local people, so how can we acquire the German language and we are far from the Germans," he asked.

In addition to tightening integration laws, Khaled complained about the pressures of everyday life in Germany He compared the situation here with that of refugees in Canada. "Refugees were taken to Canada by private planes, received by a special committee and transferred to furnished homes without forgetting children's requirements. A refugee who arrives in Germany must stay in the camps for years, for example," he said.

"I have about three kilograms of letters since I arrived in Germany" Khalid said. "Why can't these messages be translated into Arabic?" There are so many complex terms that even the Germans do not understand, he added. Why are there no translators in the offices? "In hospitals, a report is presented in German and Arabic, so why not apply that in local offices and at the foreigners' office as well?"

Khaled also faced problems while finding a home because he couldn't do so without a broker. "Most of these brokers are old immigrants who try to exploit the people of their country," he said.

Until the war ends in his country, Khaled wants to return to Erbil, where most of his family has gathered. "We are Middle Eastern and social life is very important to us." Khaled did not come to Germany for stability and work, but for "emergency" reasons. He hoped to contribute to the reconstruction of his country "just as the Germans did after the end of World War II."

Those who wish to return willingly from Germany receive financial support and material support according to their status from the government. Those who withdraw their asylum application are paid 1200 euros for each adult and 600 euros for children.

Those who do not contest the rejection of their asylum request and decide to return get 800 euros. In 2016, around 55,000 refugees left Germany voluntarily.