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Asylum Seekers in Spain 19
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara (left) attends a workshop at the office of the Catalan Commission for Refugee Aid (CCAR) in Barcelona, with two other migrants and two CCAR staff members.
Yaya, 36, from Ivory Coast, arrived in Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 20
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara (right) collects food distributed by the local NGO Bona Voluntat en Accio, in Barcelona, as part of the food support program to help migrants and people at risk of exclusion.
Yaya, 36, from Ivory Coast, arrived to Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 21
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara (right) collects food distributed by the local NGO Bona Voluntat en Accio, in Barcelona, as part of the food support program to help migrants and people at risk of exclusion.
Yaya, 36 years old from Ivory Coast, arrived in Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 22
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara arrives at home, in Barcelona, which he shares with two other males from Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Yaya, 36, from Ivory Coast, arrived in Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 23
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

21 May 2015. Barcelona:
Yaya Ouahara, who is Muslim, prays in the bedroom of his apartment, in Barcelona, which he shares with two other males from Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Yaya, 36, from Ivory Coast, arrived in Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 24
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara, who is Muslim, prays in the bedroom of his apartment, in Barcelona, which he shares with two other males from Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Yaya, 36 years old from Ivory Coast, arrived in Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 25
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 May 2015

Yaya Ouahara, who is Muslim, prays in the bedroom of his apartment, in Barcelona, which he shares with two other males from Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Yaya, 36, from Ivory Coast, arrived to Spain in 2009 by a small boat and after three years traveling through Africa. Yaya fled the civil war in his country and he recently got residence permit to stay in Spain permanently.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 17
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 May 2015

'Fodoy' listens music in his bedroom at the apartment that he shares with other three migrants from Gambia and Kenya in Sabadell, Spain. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for a migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 15
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Apr 2015

'Fodoy' (right) orders food to the cook of Foni Restaurant, a business in Raval area, Barcelona, specialized in Gambian food. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 14
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Apr 2015

'Fodoy' rolls a cigarette after lunch in Foni Restaurant, located in Raval area, Barcelona, run by Gambian cooks and specialized in Gambian food. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 08
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Apr 2015

'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 16
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Apr 2015

'Fodoy' rests in Ciutadilla parc, in Barcelona. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 12
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
22 Apr 2015

'Fodoy', from Gambia, attends practicals lessons of sewing by the owner (left) of a workshop in Barcelona, Spain. He has experience as a tailor back in his country and he wants to develop his skills. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 13
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
22 Apr 2015

'Fodoy', from Gambia, attends practicals lessons of sewing in a workshop in Barcelona, Spain. He has experience as a tailor back in his country and he wants to develop his skills. 'Fodoy' is a nickname for this migrant from Gambia, who arrived to Barcelona in 2007 without residence permit. He fled the country due to political prosecution and departed in a boat to Canary Islands. Then, the Spanish authorities reallocated him to Valencia and then to Barcelona. His asylum request has been blocked until 2017 due to having been condemned for drugs dealing. Until then, he is struggling to find accommodation and to have income to survive, although organizations such as CCAR assist him from time to time.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 09
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
13 Apr 2015

German Acevedo, 23, from La Paz province, El Salvador, prepares the lunch for his other 10 housemates from Fundacio Putxet, in Barcelona.
German arrived to Europe in summer 2012, running away from the gangs ("pandilleros") in San Salvador. The Spanish Government rejected his asylum request, but he is remaining in the country and attending courses to becomes a social worker in the future. He does not want to go back to El Salvador because he is afraid of being killed by the gangs.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 11
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
13 Apr 2015

German Acevedo, 23, from La Paz, El Salvador, chats with the cook Marifa in the kitchen, during the preparation of the lunch for his other 10 housemates from Fundacio Putxet, in Barcelona.
German arrived to Europe in summer 2012, running away from the gangs ("pandilleros") in San Salvador. The Spanish Government rejected his asylum request, but he is remaining in the country and attending courses to becomes a social worker in the future. He does not want to go back to El Salvador because he is afraid of being killed by the gangs.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 10
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
13 Apr 2015

German Acevedo (back left), 23, from El Salvador, shares the lunch with (back center and right) Saihou and Houssein, two of his 10 housemates from Fundacio Putxet, in Barcelona, and (foreground) two staff members.
German arrived to Europe in summer 2012, running away from the gangs ("pandilleros") in San Salvador. The Spanish government rejected his asylum request, but he is remaining in the country and attending courses to becomes a social worker in the future. He does not want to go back to El Salvador because he is afraid of being killed by the gangs.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 01
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Mar 2015

German Acevedo (second from right), 23 years old, from La Paz province, El Salvador, participates in an activity from a course to get the certificate on Leisure Director in Escola Lliure El Sol in Drassanes, Barcelona, Spain.
German arrived to Europe in the summer of 2012, running away from the gangs ("pandilleros") in San Salvador. The Spanish government rejected his asylum request, but he is remaining in the country and attending courses to become a social worker in the future. He does not want to go back to El Salvador because he is afraid of being killed by the gangs.

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Asylum Seekers in Spain 07
Barcelona, Spain
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Mar 2015

German Acevedo, center), 23, from La Paz province, El Salvador, participates in an activity for a course to get the certificate on Leisure Director in Escola Lliure El Sol in Drassanes, Barcelona, Spain.
German arrived to Europe in summer 2012, running away from the gangs ("pandilleros") in San Salvador. The Spanish government rejected his asylum request, but he is remaining in the country and attending courses to becomes a social worker in the future. He does not want to go back to El Salvador because he is afraid of being killed by the gangs.

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Syrian Refugee Stories: Hussein
Berlin,Germany
By luigi serenelli
10 Mar 2015

Hussein, a 27 year-old from Aleppo, considers Germany the right place in Europe to fulfill his career as an IT engineer while his home country, Syria, enters the fifth year of an unending civil war.

“I came to Germany to complete and advance my studies to become an engineer,” said Hussein. “I don’t know exactly how many years of my previous study institutions here will officially recognize. Maybe they will put me in the first year, but I am ready to re-start from the first year at university if that should be the case.”

Hussein arrived in Berlin on March 6th via Turkey and Greece. The civil war in Syria forced him to withdraw from a five-years course in IT engineering at the university in Aleppo.

“I had a diploma as a computer technician, then I decided to upgrade my certificate by attending engineering courses. I studied for two years in an institute for the diploma and then four years at a university,” Hussein said.

Back in Syria, Hussein’s livelihood was decent, but his wage of around 250 euros didn’t secure him economic independence.

“I had my own house that my parents gave to me, but I didn’t live there, and I had my own car, but they were both destroyed,” he said.

In Aleppo, Hussein taught computer science in a school to students from 6th to 11th grade. Meanwhile, he had a second job.

“I was a swim instructor. I used to go directly to the swimming pool when I finished work at the school, and also I worked as a lifeguard. I was in a good situation before the war.”

Many other skilled Syrians take the decision to start anew a life in Europe. On the continent, Germany’s powerful mix of stable economy and welfare state catches hearts and minds of young, talented asylum seekers from Syria. 

“There is life in Germany, more than other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden or Denmark,” Hussein believes. “Berlin is the best city in Europe for everything. The university is very good here in Germany. Most people are helpful towards new people coming.”

The number of refugees arriving in Berlin from war-torn Syria spiked last year. According to LAGeSo – Landesamtes für Gesundheit und Soziales - the operative branch of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the State of Berlin - in 2013 only 695 Syrians applied to start the asylum procedure in the German capital. In 2014, that number jumped to 2.518. The German Federal migration office recorded 5.340 new asylum requests from Syrians since last January, which in the same month of 2014 numbered only 1.637, a 224 per cent increase.

Syrians coming to Europe try to circumvent the Dublin regulation – imposing asylum seekers to stay in the first country of arrival in Europe – by asking to register as asylum seekers either in Berlin or Stuttgart, southern Germany. Both cities have decided to issue residence permits even if refugees had registered somewhere else in Europe.

“All Syrians, when they come from Turkey to Austria or Germany, should pass through Hungary or Italy; and the police maybe catches them and takes the fingerprints,” Hussein said. “For that, all people are coming here and you can see too many people. I came via Turkey, Greece and then I took a flight to Germany.”

Hussein’s family is now scattered in the Middle East: His father is in Lebanon, his mother is still in Syria. “I am in contact with my parents every day via internet,” he said. “In Germany, I have my friends from Syria and two cousins who are German nationals.”

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Syrian Stories: Hussein 01
Berlin, Germany
By luigi serenelli
10 Mar 2015

Hussein, 27, poses for sits in front of LAGeSo – Landesamtes für Gesundheit und Soziales - the operative branch of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the State of Berlin - where he awaits his turn to ask for a residence permit.

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Syrian Stories: Hussein 02
Berlin, Germany
By luigi serenelli
09 Mar 2015

Hussein, 27, poses for sits in front of LAGeSo – Landesamtes für Gesundheit und Soziales - the operative branch of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the State of Berlin - where he awaits his turn to ask for a residence permit.

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Syrian Stories: Hussein 03
Berlin, Germany
By luigi serenelli
09 Mar 2015

Hussein, 27, poses for sits in front of LAGeSo – Landesamtes für Gesundheit und Soziales - the operative branch of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the State of Berlin - where he awaits his turn to ask for a residence permit.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
15 Jun 2013

Yop's life (random name), a Christian woman aged 45, changed when she refused the marriage proposal from a Muslim man working with her. Since that moment, he started threatening her and her family and he turned their lives into hell when she decided to marry another man. Thanks to his contacts, her harasser made her and her husband to be imprisoned and her nephew killed. The whole family left the country in December 2011 and traveled to Bangkok where they got the refugee status.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
14 Jun 2013

Sarah (random name) left Democratic Republic of Congo after being threatened for defending women rights in the country. She decided to leave when the government killed two of her colleagues from the NGO she was working for. She has been recognized as refugee in Bangkok but she does not qualify for UNHCR assistance as she makes some money selling jewelry and scarfs.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible ...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
14 Jun 2013

Shakila (random name) belongs to the Ahmadiyya minority, an Islamic reformist movement persecuted in Pakistan. She fled her country in December 2012 with her 32-years old son who was threatened for working with an Ahmadi company. She lives now in Bangkok and she waits to get the refugee status.

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The struggle of immigrant single-moth...
Bangkok, Thailand.
By Biel Calderon
10 Jun 2013

The iconic image of refugees that we usually have in mind is a row of tents in a sprawling emergency camp. But reality tells us that refugees are increasingly moving to large towns and cities. More than over half the world’s refugees live in large towns and cities where they suffer from harsh living conditions, with a lack of security and an increasing poverty.

Thailand is a hot spot for urban refugees. One of the reasons why the number keeps increasing is the relative easinness to enter the country. But the conditions of life awaiting them are far from the idilic idea that some displaced people may build in their minds. Urban refugees in Thailand face a harsh reality, without any legal right to work and a lack of access to basic services, such as healthcare and education.

Bangkok hosts around 2,600 refugees and asylum seekers from more than 40 countries. They hope to find a sense of community, safety and economic independence, but what they find is fear of detention and deportation, exploitation and abuse.

Among them, we find a specially vulnerable group: single-mother refugees who came to Thailand either with their family or alone. They are often denied the necessary legal rights to participate in the mainstream economy and are thus pushed underground, into informal jobs. There, they face extortion, exploitation, abuse (risk of sexual and gender-based violence) and arrest.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
09 Jun 2013

Abida, 53, belongs to the Ahmadiyya minority, an Islamic reformist movement persecuted in Pakistan. She left her country in 2009 with her three children after being attacked in their home-town, Gujrat. She is now waiting in Bangkok to travel to Canada, where she will be resettled.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
08 Jun 2013

Pendeza (random name), 31, was detained and tortured in Democratic Republic of Congo because of the tie of her husband with a tribal guerrilla. She arrived in Bangkok in November 2012 after having travelled through Rwanda and Kenya. She lives with her baby son as an asylum seeker, waiting to be recognized as refugee.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
08 Jun 2013

Maria Teresa (random name), 36, fled Angola in 2009 escaping from local authorities who threatened her life. In 2008, the government expropriated her house and detained her during a demonstration. Now she lives in Bangkok with her 2 years-old daughter, where she has initiated the process to get the refugee status.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Shoba (random name), 35, left Sri Lanka in August 2009, two months after the end of the civil war with the Tamil guerrilla. Her husband disappeared in July 2009 after being accused of helping the guerrilla. Already recognized as a refugee, she lives now in Bangkok with her children, while waiting to be resettled.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Muna (random name), 39, lost the favour of her family after marrying a man from another tribal clan in Somalia. When her husband disappeared in 2010 both her family and her husband´s family tried to kill her. She fled in July 2011 and travelled to Bangkok but she had to leave her four children in her country. As a refugee, she started the process to be resettled.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Andrea (random name) was married with a member of the Intelligence Service of the Tamil guerrilla during the civil war in Sri Lanka. When the civil war finished in 2009 her family was targeted by the government and they fled after her husband disappeared. She lives in Bangkok with two of her three children. She has been rejected as refugee and she is preparing the appeal against the UNHCR decision.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Sahar (random name), 50, fled Iran in 2010 with her three children escaping from the abuses of her husband. Two of her three children are already adults but she also takes care of her granddaughter, abandoned by her Thai mother. She has recently been recognized as refugee by UNHCR.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Sania (random name), 33, left Pakistan in 2012, one year after the escape of her husband, a member of an opposition organization. She lives with her three children in Bangkok, while her husband is hold in an Immigration Detention Center located in the same city. Both have been recognized as refugees.da, where she will be resettled.