(Editor’s note: Nina Avramovic Trninic is a civil engineer, and an expat originally from Tuzla, Bosnia. This opinion post is a response to a Local AT post about refugees leaving Austria because it did not meet their expectations. That story includes remarks by men at a refugee shelter in the Third District of Vienna. One man said the group had been “humiliated here … Dogs are treated better than refugees in Austria – at least they have something good to eat ….” Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
After reading an article on the Local AT website about ungrateful refugees, I got really, really upset.
I am the first to help and to advocate for refugees since not so long ago, there was a war in my home country of Bosnia. But to say dogs are treated better than refugees in Austria is simply more than rude! When refugees started coming to Austria, I was so proud to be living in Vienna, for the people of Austria worked day and night to provide food, shelter, transport, clothes, toys – everything they could for months, which the photo in the Local’s article also shows. And Austrians still are.
Many, and I mean many, took refugees into their homes. My husband agreed with me to take some into our home, but when I looked for people at Hauptbahnbof Vienna, no one needed a place to stay for a shorter period.
I speak German; I got my Master’s Degree in Austria. Still, there were times I was jobless and times when I worked horrible student jobs. I never expected to be given something, but saw it as part of my “fight.” Expecting to live a “normal” life after three months in Austria is not realistic. Even if you came to a foreign country under ideal circumstances – having a good job and enough money and stability – you would still miss your home, your family, your culture and your friends.
I still miss those things 13 years after I left Bosnia.
Six hundred thousand refugees came through and some stayed in Austria during the past couple of months. That is 8 percent of Austria’s population! Bear in mind Austria is a country that offers one-to-three years paid maternity leave and then adds some paid paternity leave to it.
Everyone has health insurance and a minimum income guaranteed by the state. If you are too poor to pay your rent, you get an unbelievably cheap apartment provided by the city. The city budget for the construction and maintenance of the city apartments in 2016 is 582.5 million euros!
I know living in an emergency center is far from ideal, but you do have a roof over your head, no shooting and the Third District of Vienna is like living in Greenwich Village in New York – a district where young, hip and moderately rich live … a district filled with hip culture.
Many Austrians cannot afford it. Hell, my husband and I cannot afford it, and we have two engineers’ incomes! It is most definitely a place where freedom, peace and future ARE to be found.
I am so sorry, but when I hear something like this, I wonder, why did I leave my sleeping baby home and go help refugees late at night if this is seen as “treating them like a dog.” It is simply discouraging and hurtful to hear that.
One should always bear in mind, integration to a new country and culture is a two-way street. All of us who emigrated from our home countries should be grateful for an opportunity to work hard and get rewarded for that – to live in freedom and stability, since that is more than our home countries have provided for us!