1 July 2009 – Semsi R. went to renew his “Duldung” (literally, “toleration”), the documented which is extended to rejected asylum seekers who, for security or other reasons, cannot be returned to their country of origin, when he was arrested in view of his deportation, last Friday. He is set to be sent back to Kosovo, tomorrow.

The 40-year old man, and father of four teenage children who are all born in Germany where Semsi R. has lived for the last 17 years, is the first known case of a Kosovo Rom deported from Lower Saxony on the basis of the bilateral readmission agreement which was concluded earlier this year between Germany and the Kosovo authorities. Six weeks ago, another Kosovo Rom, Elvis A., was deported from Fuldatal in Hessen to Kosovo.

Roma NGOs and refugee organisations are afraid that the two cases just mark the beginning of a wave of forced repatriations of Roma to Kosovo. Since April, an increasing number of Kosovo Roma refugees in Lower Saxony and other parts of Germany have received letters inviting them to return to Kosovo on a “voluntary” basis in order to avoid their deportation, and some have subsequently gone into hiding.

According to the UNHCR position on the continued needs for international protection, Roma as well as Kosovo Serbs should continue to be considered at risk of persecution in Kosovo and benefit from international protection in their countries of asylum. The new agreement signed between the German and Kosovo authorities contains no limitations as regards to the ethnicity of the persons it applies to provided they can be assumed of Kosovo origin.

It may apply to several ten thousands of Kosovo Roma whose residence status in Germany has not been resolved, and who cannot fulfil the restrictive regularisation criteria which are at the basis of the new immigration act (“Bleiberechtsregelung”).

NGOs in Lower Saxony call for a demonstration in Göttingen, on 2 July, in order to mark their opposition against the repatriation policies of the German government. Chachipe supports these protests and calls on the German authorities to grant Kosovo Roma a permanent residence status.

Chachipe a.s.b.l.

Update

In spite of protests, Semsi R. was forcibly repatriated to Kosovo, on 2 July 2009.