An 18 year long wait for asylum

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An 18 year long wait for asylum
Thousands of Syrian families flee into neighboring Jordan Photo: UNHCR/A. Harper

How long is too long to wait for your asylum claim to be processed? With Friday being World Refugee Day, The Local looks into the plight of one man who has been waiting for 18 years.


In Austria, around 22,000 refugees anxiously await the outcome of their asylum applications.  Over 100 have been hanging in limbo for more than a decade already.

D'Costa Dulal, a 38-year-old from Bangladesh, quite possibly holds the record for the longest running asylum case in Austria – to date, an incredible 18 years.

ORF radio met with Dulal in the dining room of a home for old-age pensioners in Brigittenau, where for the past twelve years he has been selling newspapers to elderly residents. They like and trust him, and he knows exactly who reads what.  If they are sick, he delivers their papers directly to their beds.

The pensioners know his situation and treat him with gratitude and empathy.  One told ORF: "He's been shaking for 18 years and cannot get himself established because maybe tomorrow he will be sent home."

For D'Costa, the impact of the procedure on his life has been enormous.

"I don't see a future. I can't find a girlfriend, I can't get married and have a child, because if there is a negative decision about my case, then I will need to leave the country."

As a 20 year old, D'Costa was involved in student protest in Bangladesh, fleeing the country after his life was threatened. One of his friends was subsequently killed, so his fears were not without grounds.  He believes he made the right decision to escape.

After nine years, Dulal received the first decision on his case, which was negative. His appeal was rejected. A final hearing was held last autumn, but no interpreter was provided.

According to D'Costa's lawyer, Andreas Lepschi, "This is not an asylum procedure, rather a denial of the asylum procedure."

Eighteen years without travel documents has meant D'Costa has been unable to leave Austria. He is desperate to stay and many of the retirees want to testify for him in court.



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