Good education doesn’t count?

door mihnea
  • Man study books black and white photo

Daniel got his diploma from university and was among the top of his class. After a few years in the civil society sector he managed to get a position at the United Nations in the capital city of his country.  All those years studying and trying to be a good member of society finally paid off.

Unfortunately, the political situation worsened as years went by. Conflict broke out between radicals and the rest of society. Soon enough there were killings happening more often and safety in the city was questionably weaker. Terror started to reign in the hearts and minds of Daniel, his colleagues, friends, and family.  

Luckily, he managed to flee the country. Daniel’s relatives in other EU countries were worried about his safety. They convinced him to leave and head to Europe as soon as possible. He arrived in Belgium some time ago. His application for asylum is not going well…

I am a good person, why can’t they see that?! I even have sisters in Germany and France who are good citizens, my record back in the country is of high standards, I went to good schools, I even worked at the UN! Why don’t they give me refugee status?” asked Daniel when he visited Startpunt.

Education is not part of the requirements for getting protection. Unfortunately, the mere fact of having studied or worked doesn’t make people eligible for asylum. 

You can be accorded the refugee status if you can prove that you have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group and that therefore your life is in danger. If you don’t fulfill the conditions set out by the Refugee Convention of Geneva, you might possibly meet the conditions for subsidiary protection under the European Qualification Directive. You will have to prove that your life is in danger because you face a real risk of suffering serious harm if returning to your country of origin. Serious harm means that you risk death penalty or execution, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or that there is a serious and individual threat to your life for reasons of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict. If none of these conditions is applicable to your situation, it won’t help that you are well educated or have experience working in a high position. Once people are recognized as a refugee or got the subsidiary protection, then their education might help them to find a suitable job more easily but until then, the authorities will not take that into consideration”, says Marileen Vandenberghe, legal information volunteer of Startpunt.