We hereby publish a statement by Donia Bouchta, who fled the war in Ukraine as a student and now lives in Leipzig:
August 31 was exactly one week ago. While this date has no significance for many, it is of great importance for those of us who are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine from third countries. We are about 29,000 people nationwide and have spent months settling in, trying to find solutions to our stay. Because we are not welcome as students* and workers* from Ukraine, we hear that different laws now apply to us “third country nationals.” They say that people who do not have a fictitious certificate and who are not yet registered are suddenly illegal in Germany. We could even be deported.
As one of the people who are registered but did not receive the fiction only because the original Ukrainian residence card was not with her, I was dumbfounded. Many thoughts went through my mind, including the possibility of leaving Germany. Although I am already learning the language, because it has been five months since I arrived. But since I’m here to finish my language studies, I can’t just leave, and even if I did, what would await me in my home country? I would not be able to enroll in a university there because I am a student returning from Ukraine.
Other possibilities than Germany?
Third-country nationals who have been to a Ukrainian university have two options to finish their studies: either they learn French fluently and enroll in private universities, where they have to start from scratch again. Another option would be for them to travel to Georgia, Romania, or Russia, respectively, and finish their studies where they left off. The problem with this, however, is that Ukrainian universities charge a lot of money if you want to interrupt your studies early and finish them abroad. Why we can’t stay and continue to study or work like Ukrainians without encountering prejudice everywhere.
Continuous racist discrimination, starting from the first day of the war
Racist discrimination started already when we tried to leave Ukraine. After three days of flight; discrimination on the train and long waits at the borders, we felt as if we did not have the right to leave the country. However, some of us, especially BIPoC, were beaten up and stopped at the Polish border by their border guards. Now we are in a new country, safe and alive, but we have no idea how to continue in Germany. We all thought about our future and tried to figure out what possibilities there could be for each* of us to realize our ambitions.
We arrived and thought about what to do next. We went to the university, sent off our paperwork, and matriculation day finally arrived. In the process, we had learned a lot, including that Ukrainians were their top priority – as if we hadn’t experienced the same nightmare. When it comes to the immigration office, each employee makes a different decision despite the same circumstances. Some of us were forced to sign an asylum application, while others were handed border crossing certificates or given the option to leave “voluntarily” without understanding what that meant.
Equal rights for all, stop the racism!
Those of us who still have not received a fiction certificate are now in contact with lawyers who are trying to obtain these documents for them. August 31st is now a week away and we are wondering what else will happen in September. Including me. We demand from the German government to find a solution for us! We fled from the same war as the Ukrainian citizens. Any difference that is made between them and us can only be called racist. Therefore, we demand from Germany to finally do justice and to give us back the right to our future, which we have lost because of the war!
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