In this blog piece, a young Afghan asylum seeker narrates his journey seeking refuge away from his homeland. He contacted STOP THE TRAFFIK after seeing our Aman Safety campaign which targeted young unaccompanied minors in Greece and Turkey.
“I was living and working in Turkey for a year. Because I was single*, it was very difficult for me to get Turkish ID or documents and I was afraid that the police might deport me back to Afghanistan. After working for a while, I saved some money and decided to go to Greece with a friend I had met in Turkey because everyone would tell me that if you go to Greece, you will have a better life. Since you are underage, the government will support you.
I tried to get from Turkey to Greece several times. But each time, we got caught by either the Turkish police or the Greek police, and they would send us back to Turkey. Every time I got on the ship, I thought it would be my last day because there was no guarantee that we would arrive to Greece alive. We would sleep in the woods for weeks until the ship was ready to depart.
On a particularly rainy night, the smuggler came to us and told us to be ready. Everyone protested because it was raining but the smuggler told us to not worry and that he will take us through a shorter route and that because of the rain, the police are less likely to be around and we can get to Greece. So we got moving.
The women and children were crying, and everyone was afraid of all the possible troubles and of drowning in sea, but since we had no other choice, we got moving, and arrived at the Moria camp in Lisbon Island at four in the morning.
Well, we all know that life is sweet, and everyone wants to live. Everyone likes to have a good, comfortable and peaceful life, but life is not the same for everyone. No one likes to abandon their homeland and family and live in an alien country where you don’t know the language and you have no clue what to do.
I lived in Camp Moria for a year and four months. Every night there were fights, every night someone would get killed in a fight. Hungry, with no money and no future, everyone there had lost their minds. I was depressed and had trouble breathing myself. I had gone mad.
Since I was from a poor family and I had gotten sick of having no future in the camp and (my asylum application) getting rejected twice, I thought there was no other choice and my best option in these harsh conditions is selling one of my organs. Fortunately, I met with the STOP THE TRAFFIK organization, and they offered to help me and I gave up on that decision.”
*It is often believed that it is harder for single men to get a residence permit. The general belief is that the families, single mothers, single girls are able to get some sort of protection, but single young men are the first in the line to be rejected or deported.
He was recently granted asylum and no longer faces the threat of deportation. He is attending school and is currently learning English and Greek language. Thanks to the support he has received, he is no longer considering putting himself in high-risk situations.
You can read more about Aman Safety, our prevention program which targeted young unaccompanied refugees in Greece and Turkey, in our report Seeking Sanctuary in Greece which you can read here.