Telefon:+352 49 93 93 93
When Iraqi asylum seeker Wilson Mikail went on hunger strike last September he never dreamed he and his family would be holding their residence permits eight months later.
But, while the long-awaited decision marked a water-shed moment in his 11-year battle for asylum, Wilson's joy was somewhat diminished when he learned that his mother had died the same day.
“At that time I didn't feel anything about it because I had lost the most important person in my life: my mum,” he said, adding: “At the same time I consider God took away something very special in my life and he gave me a different life to start with.”
The former army engineer fled Iraq in 2000 just before the toppling of then dictator Sadam Hussein's regime. A practising christian who was once involved with government security, he travelled to Syria where he met his now wife, Shamirim, and step-daughter and the three went on to Greece where Wilson found work.
But, after the collapse of Greece's economy the small family were again forced to go on the move. They came to Luxembourg because of its religious background and track record in handling refugees.
Once there the long wait began. In recent years Luxembourg has received record numbers of applications for international protection, placing its resources under great strain. The result was that Wilson remained 14 months in Luxembourg without even a hint of an interview with immigration. Desperate to begin a new life and support his family, Wilson and a handful of other Iraqi asylum seekers camped out at Place Clairefontaine in the Capital and gave up food for 21 days until the government agreed to give each of them an interview date.
“The hunger strike was the end of the road with the legal actions,” said Wilson. “It was a desperate act. It worked.”
Wilson underwent a four-day interview in November and his wife spent two days with the authorities explaining her case in December. All the time, Wilson and his family continued with their language classes, hoping that they would hear the news they had been waiting for. “I had faith that the decision would come good in my life,” said Wilson.
The approval for permanent residency came through on April 3. “I accepted the decision with open arms. I've a lot of appreciation for the Luxembourg government. They took the decision for my life to begin anew in Luxembourg and they understand what happened with me back home with all the problems I've been through,” he said.
Wilson and his family are now making plans for their new life. In two months he can begin looking for a job. As a former army engineer and with an HGV licence, Wilson is confident of finding work, which he says will prove his commitment to Luxembourg and show his gratitude to the government. His wife, meanwhile, is a qualified hairdresser and his 15-year-old step-daughter has already mastered French and Luxembourgish and is settled in a local school. In three months, his family hope to leave the Foyer where they live in two rooms and move to their own home.
“We're looking forward to that. It will be like another day in paradise. You have your own things, your own place to stay, your own responsibility for it. It's privacy and space and being able to live your life in your own home,” he said.
For the long-term he and his family will work on mastering French and then Luxembourgish with a view to applying for Luxembourgish citizenship in 2017. Meanwhile, Wilson's personal dream is to one day visit his mother's grave in Australia.