Hello. I’m a refugee in Slovenia, born in Palestine. Until January I was employed, I had a fixed term contract in a warehouse. When the contract finished, they didn’t extend it. They said they needed more people to work in the winter holiday time, but now they don’t need us anymore. I started to look for a new job, but the quarantine started and I had to wait for it to finish. I started to search for a new job in May. I searched actively every day. The search lasted until October. Wherever I called they told me there are no jobs and that I should call them after New Year. In the summer I called some employers who were hiring, but they rejected me because I don’t speak slovenian very well. They said it would be easier if at least I spoke serbian. In most of the jobs I apply for, the majority of work is done by migrant workers from Serbia and Bosnia anyway. I would like to get a chance, because I know that having a job is the fastest way to learn the language even without previous knowledge of it. But I think the real reason they don’t want to hire me is because I’m a refugee. Many times when I spoke with employers on the phone, they told me they don’t want muslims, because they pray five times per day and disturb the working process. This is simply not true, their statements are just excuses.

From my friends, who are active in some organisation, I heard that the Ministry for internal affairs is supposedly preparing a new law. This law says that when refugees get international protection, they will have to sign an integration contract, where they would agree to learn a language and get employed in a span of one year. Of course all of us want that, but in real life this is impossible. We can’t learn a language because everyone here speaks english with us all the time, even if we speak it even less than slovenian. And when it comes to employment – until the level of unemployment in Slovenia is so high in general, it’s hard to imagine that refugees will be the ones who will get those few existing jobs. Unemployment isn’t just a problem of refugees. It’s a problem in Slovenia in general.
Because of this, I don’t think the conditions of this integration contract are very fair, especially for the fact that this contract will (or won’t) give us the rights in this country.

Anyway. We are doomed to receive social support, because we can’t get a job. But of course, people here don’t like that. First they don’t want to give us a job, and then they accuse us of coming here just to get social support money. That’s unfair. If we could, we would work. But we can’t. We also don’t want a job that exploits us and doesn’t pay us fairly. We still have some self-respect. Sometimes I feel we even have more self-respect than local workers. I heard once, that refugees were on a strike, because they weren’t
paid, and their Slovenian coworkers weren’t. The conditions for workers are bad in this country. Because of that many of us don’t feel good here.

To be honest, I don’t feel accepted here in general. It’s hard for me to find a room, it’s hard for me to find a job, it’s even hard to open a bank account. At the beginning I had big ideas about opening my own business here, but those ideas disappeared quite quickly. You can’t do anything here. As a refugee you can’t get a loan in the bank, even if you’re regularly employed. I see a lot of people who are full of drive and creativity, but their dreams slowly fade away. Because you simply can’t do anything. We even have problems with opening a normal bank account. Just because we come from certain countries that are on their black list. But that’s discriminatory and illegal! In practice it looks like this: we go to the bank to
open a bank account, they don’t want to do that for us, so we come back with one of our slovenian friends who say they are lawyers, and then they open it for us without further questions. Even they know that what they are doing is illegal. How can I have the right to work, but no right to have a bank account? I don’t even know, how we are supposed to integrate, if we are not given a chance. I’m sure that we could all positively contribute to this society, but we just can’t. I have to admit that I feel worse about myself every day. I have a feeling that nobody likes me. I’m becoming more and more timid and unsure. Because of that I have a blockade when I study language and when I try to integrate into my new work environment. In October I got a job at some other warehouse and I can tell you that I am very unsure and nervous. For now, I’m doing ok. But I’m an engineer, and I
barely allow myself to work in a warehouse, because I feel that everyone is constantly double-checking me.

The people here really don’t give us a chance. They just listen to what the media tells them. If they sat down with us and talked to us, they might even like us. It’s not right to judge people before you even meet them and hear what they have to say.

In the spring time, some older man from Afghanistan, who had lived here for quite some years and spoke slovenian very well, commited suicide. He killed himself because he was tired. We ran away from death. But here I feel that we are dying from within. Because nobody likes us. And we feel that.