Letter to editor

On the plight of Sierra Leonean Asylum Seekers in Germany

22 September 2008 at 21:05 | 3027 views

Dear Editor,

Please permit space in your paper to throw some light on the ongoing issue about Sierra Leonean Asylum Seekers in Germany.

The Story in “the New People” on the 9th September, written by Bassie Kamara from Hamburg, captioned “As Sierra Leoneans languish in Germany, APC and President Ernest Bai Koroma working to deport Refugees” is wilfully misleading.

The writer very well knows that the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the APC neither have the ability, nor the authority to evict its citizens from a foreign country. They cannot prevent its citizens from being deported from any country, if that country is determined to carry out a deportation exercise.

The asylum seekers saga has been reigning on sierra Leoneans and other aliens, predominantly Africans and Asians, for several years now. In the case of Germany, all kinds of pressures have been applied to get our local representatives in Bonn to cooperate with the host authorities in getting rejected asylum applicants being repatriated. There has been a lot of diplomatic wrangling that contributed in delaying such deportations, in many cases to the point that the affected persons could otherwise regularize their stay. In the last two years this has been increasingly difficult to achieve because of the unification of Asylum policy in the EU countries.

In the case of Sierra Leone, the whole issue has been complicated by the alarming number of other Africans falsely imposing as Sierra Leoneans, and in many cases even illegally acquiring Sierra Leonean passports by paying huge amounts of money without being able to speak a single Sierra Leonean language, let alone the Sierra Leone Krio. To add insult to injury, a lot of these sierra Leonean impostors are deeply engaged in diverse criminal activities, ranging from drug offences to prostitution.

Identification exercises have been carried out by the embassies in the past upon the request of the host country, to help prune their nationals in Germany of undesirable non-Sierra Leoneans, but apparently these have never been effective. I want to believe that this is why the ongoing exercise has been put in place upon the request of the German authorities. Some of us are asking why our Government is not refusing to cooperate with the European Countries on this issue.

I can only assure you that The APC Government can only reluctantly cooperate in such an exercise when all options have been exhausted and the Sierra Leonean public interest is seriously threatened. Betrayal of our citizens is definitely a non starter.

Dr. Ben Sannoh, in his contribution on this discussion (The New People Newspaper Online) drew a parallel to arrangements made with Senegal to accommodate its citizens after deportation. It sounds very good. I know several Sierra Leoneans that have been deported not only from Germany but also from places like the UK and the USA in the last couple of years. During my several visits to Freetown this year I was fortunate to meet three such former Asylum Seekers in Germany in Freetown. Two of them are visibly struggling to cope. Perhaps, Dr. Sannoh can tell us what help the then SLPP government extended to these in order to ease the process of their re-settlement.

To the best of my knowledge, absolutely nothing. The two chaps I am referring to I knew here in Germany very well as hardworking and were in no way to be categorized as “unpeaceful” refugees. Suma sumarum: it is naïve and irresponsible to politicize this asylum issue. What we are seeing now is the climax of a long ongoing process over the years. Even the outgoing Ambassador in Bonn, H.E. Foday Sesay was apparently no longer able to exert any influence that may lead to calming down the urge to repatriate asylum seekers.

As I am writing this piece, I have just been informed that some people that were interviewed today, after identification, were advised by the German authorities that they will be allowed some time (definitely not too long)to buck up and use the known acceptable means (explained to them) to regularize their stay in Germany.

There is no doubt that the present identification exercise, which many believe is a ploy to get asylum seekers ready for repatriation is something very worrying. Sierra Leone is not the only country affected. This whole thing has nothing to do with the ability or the inability of any political party in those Countries to perform. THIS IS A NATIONAL ISSUE.

Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora have, without doubt, proven to be a very important factor in the economic development of our country. Sierra Leonean refugees in Germany are no exceptions. They send money and goods to support their families and friends back home, they pay school fees for children in schools and colleges. They play very active roles in activities undertaken by the Sierra Leone communities in their areas. Our governments, especially the present one, is very much aware of this fact.

Bona fide Sierra Leoneans can always count on the support of the APC-Government where it can. Criminally inclined Sierra Leonean impostors, who tarnish the image of our country in railway stations around cities in Germany, in brothels, should be made to face the brunt of the law.

On a quick note about the two compatriots that made the two contributions in “The New People Newspaper”: From his utterances, Mr. Bassy Kamara must be an asylum seeker in Germany for quite some time now. He apparently has no first account idea on how Sierra Leone looks like today as compared to 12 months ago when the APC took over the reins of Government. Dr. Sannoh is some 15 or more years in Germany without visiting his homeland (no fault of his). I wonder how these friends can objectively assess the
achievements and/or failures of the APC government. It is share waste of time trying to convince them that Sierra Leone under the leadership of President E.B.Koroma has long embarked on a path to progress that is hitherto unprecedented in the history of our country.

No one can appreciate such when he or she is deeply embedded in ethnic bias.

Kindest Regards,

Dr. Salieu M.Turay, Chairman, APC-Germany.