An Intimate Portrait Of A Serbian Family Seeking Asylum In Belgium

 

Fine Art Documentary Photographer Isabelle Pateer is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  These images are from her project ‘Room 26.10.12‘.  To see Isabelle’s body of work click on any image.

 

Room 261012 Serbian Asylum Family in Belgium Although numerous national debates on immigration issues have been raised in Belgium over the last years, no clear governmental policies and regulations have been established. The people concerned are kept in doubt and, with recent political turmoil in mind, will have to face yet another undefined period of uncertainty with regard to their files. The longer the period immigrants are awaiting for decisive answers with regard to their visa, the less urgent their dossiers become to be processed and the life of the people concerned becomes dominated by waiting and uncertainty. In this photographic series I have focused on a family of Serbian refugees who are in Belgium for 10 years now and stay with their four children in a refugee centre in Belgium. In this intimate stories it becomes clear that they suffer from the uncertainty and purposeless that they experience by spending most of the day killing time in their 12 m² room. Especially the woman, Haria is suffering physically and emotionally a lot from this uncertain situation, but nevertheless keeps dreaming of a house on their own, a breast operation and new teeth.

 

Room 261012 Serbian Asylum Family in Belgium Although numerous national debates on immigration issues have been raised in Belgium over the last years, no clear governmental policies and regulations have been established. The people concerned are kept in doubt and, with recent political turmoil in mind, will have to face yet another undefined period of uncertainty with regard to their files. The longer the period immigrants are awaiting for decisive answers with regard to their visa, the less urgent their dossiers become to be processed and the life of the people concerned becomes dominated by waiting and uncertainty. In this photographic series I have focused on a family of Serbian refugees who are in Belgium for 10 years now and stay with their four children in a refugee centre in Belgium. In this intimate stories it becomes clear that they suffer from the uncertainty and purposeless that they experience by spending most of the day killing time in their 12 m² room. Especially the woman, Haria is suffering physically and emotionally a lot from this uncertain situation, but nevertheless keeps dreaming of a house on their own, a breast operation and new teeth.

 

During an assignment for the Belgian federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers (Fedasil) I met a young Serbian family, Shaban, Haria and their four children (who were all born in Belgium). They had come to Belgium in 1998 and were still awaiting decisive answers with regard to their visa when I met them in a Belgium refugee centre in 2008.

Especially Haria’s personality struck me very much. She seemed both so strong and confident and yet so fragile and naive. I felt somehow drawn to them and that’s how it started that I visited them again and again.

In this intimate series I wanted to focus on the personal turbulence of their uncertain family life within the confines of their 12 m² room (Room26.10.12), in which they squandered most of their time with useless pastimes and worrying about their future.

On a second level the series criticizes a failing Belgian asylum policy. For years on end no Belgian government had succeeded in establishing clear and functional immigration policies and regulations. By this period of time asylum centers were overcrowded and files were being treated without any urgency, causing people to live in asylum centers for years on end, with no progress. By 2010 the Belgian government even had to book hotel rooms to accommodate the ever growing number of asylum seekers.

In 2010 this family became regularized by a rule of the Belgian government to cope with the space restrictions in the Asylum centers and now try to build up their independent life.

 

Room 261012 Serbian Asylum Family in Belgium Although numerous national debates on immigration issues have been raised in Belgium over the last years, no clear governmental policies and regulations have been established. The people concerned are kept in doubt and, with recent political turmoil in mind, will have to face yet another undefined period of uncertainty with regard to their files. The longer the period immigrants are awaiting for decisive answers with regard to their visa, the less urgent their dossiers become to be processed and the life of the people concerned becomes dominated by waiting and uncertainty. In this photographic series I have focused on a family of Serbian refugees who are in Belgium for 10 years now and stay with their four children in a refugee centre in Belgium. In this intimate stories it becomes clear that they suffer from the uncertainty and purposeless that they experience by spending most of the day killing time in their 12 m² room. Especially the woman, Haria is suffering physically and emotionally a lot from this uncertain situation, but nevertheless keeps dreaming of a house on their own, a breast operation and new teeth.

 

room 261012

 

room 261012

 

room 261012

 

room 261012

 

room 261012

 

room 261012

 

See also:

Unsettled

By Isabelle Pateer

 


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