Not My Country
In recent years, several thousands of people, many belonging to the Roma, Ashkali or Egyptian (RAE) community, have been forcibly returned to Kosovo by Western European countries. Germany is one of the countries expelling RAE families that have been living there for a long time, often 15 years or more. The families had a “toleration status” in Germany, meaning they had no secure right to stay. The deportations take place in the framework of a “readmission agreement” that Germany concluded with Kosovo, the latter being under political pressure to accept this agreement as a stepping stone to visa liberalisation with the European Union. However, Kosovo does not have the economic structure nor a secure and stable social environment to receive these families. In spite of this, an estimated 12 000 people will be returned by Germany in the coming years, half of them children.
Many of the children were not only brought up in Germany but were born there as well. They feel German. Prior to deportation most children never set foot in Kosovo and often do not speak Albanian or Serbian. Although the whole family suffers from the deportation, children are particularly affected. They feel uprooted and suffer from a loss of identity. In Kosovo, the children and their parents fall into a marginal existence. The families live in poverty. They have almost no income opportunities. Housing is cramped, unhealthy and precarious. Families live in constant fear to become homeless. Access to education is problematic and most children are not able to stay in school. Many of the children do not have civil documents for Kosovo. Therefore their access to education, welfare and medical services is blocked. Furthermore, numerous families don’t feel secure in Kosovo. They feel intimidated and discriminated both by the Albanian majority and the Serbian minority. While in Germany the children went to school and had a social life, in Kosovo they are mostly confined to the house. The families’ hopes and dreams are shattered.
This photo essay documents the life of a few deported families that now live on the margins of Kosovo society.