Romanian Family Awaits Decision On Refugee Bid
THE difficulties in sorting out refugee issues are illustrated in the large dormitory maintained for asylum seekers by Caritas, the Roman Catholic relief organization, in Vienna's suburbs.Here prospective immigrants from Eastern Europe as well as Pakistan, several Middle Eastern countries, and Africa await word on requests, or appeals on denials, for refugee status. Almost none seem likely to be granted asylum, given the difficulty of providing proof of personal endangerment from persecution, as most European countries require. At the same time the return home of those denied refugee status is less than assured, especially for those who have started to work or otherwise established new lives. The Pop family from Romania is a case in point. Bertha Pop lives with two other members of her family (her son sleeps upstairs in the men's dormitory) in a draped-off area no larger than a prison cell. "It is impossible to go anywhere legally from Romania, but we are of Hungarian background and that is our problem," says daughter Tunde, who with her brother entered Austria illegally in November 1990. They claimed refugee status when apprehended, as did their mother when she came several months later with her granddaughter and a family friend. "We just want to live a normal life, but in Romania, nicht possible," says Levente. He says he and his sister lost their Romanian jobs, were arrested and then beaten in connection with Romania's ethnic strife. Now in Austria they work while the family appeals an initial denial of eligibility for political asylum. The Pops' story is repeated dozens of times at Caritas house, in other refugee houses in Vienna, and across Europe.