Tag Archive for 'refugee stories'

“Home is where your family is – together!”

Massoud* (17): “When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent.”

A mom and a dad with three young kids in Greece – their 17-year-old son alone in Germany

Morteza B.* (37) from Afghanistan escaped his country after the lives of his family were threatened. He arrived to Greece with his wife and four children shortly before the EU-Turkey ‘Deal’ was implemented at the end of February 2016. After a few months feeling unsafe in a Greek emergency refugee camp near Athens, the family tried to continue their flight through the Balkans.

More than ten times they were intercepted and unlawfully pushed back to Greece. Once they finally reached Serbian soil, they were intercepted again and pushed back arbitrarily to Bulgaria, where they had never been before.

In winter 2016, after a week-long odyssey, they were finally returned from Bulgaria to Greece. Left with no money, they saw no option but to send their eldest son Massoud* (now 17 years old) to Germany, where they thought he would be safe, as he had been the one along with his father threatened most in Afghanistan.

Their family reunification application was never sent by Greek authorities despite repeated promises. Instead after two years in Germany and despite having claimed asylum there, Germany attempted to return the family’s minor son back to Greece. When Greek authorities refused to take him back, he was allowed to continue his asylum procedure in Germany. He finally received a one year national humanitarian status (Abschiebungsverbot). He is legally resident in Germany and goes to school there ever since. But he is alone.

“Our son was almost kidnapped in Afghanistan. Masked men were waiting for him in front of his school. After this terror, we had to take our kids from school to keep them safe. We fled to Greece. We tried for months to move onward all together through Macedonia and Serbia as we felt unprotected among the hundreds of other Afghans around us.

On our way, we got illegally returned more than a dozen times. We were beaten, pushed by border guards, soldiers and police; our phones got stolen. We were forced to cross through the freezing waters of a river and were kept detained in Bulgaria for two months in miserable conditions and without being able to even go out.

Back in Greece, after our son reached safety in Germany and when we informed the Greek Asylum Service that we wanted to apply for family reunification they just told us they would send it but we had to wait. Every time we renewed our papers, they’d say the same pushing our patience beyond its limits. Until that day I will never forget, when they suddenly said: “No! We will not send your family reunification request. You will have your asylum procedure in Greece.” I felt I was breaking.

Me and my wife still try to understand that we will have our asylum interview in Greece in one year, exactly five years after we reached Europe, when we will have been separated far away from our son for 3 1/2 years already.

We still live in this refugee camp, a container village in an industrial area. My wife is suffering from severe psychological problems for years, she has therapy and takes medicines. Her situation worsened after the violence we faced at Europe’s borders, but her health is devastated since our eldest child is so far from us.

We have a few neighbours that have been with us all the time in the camp – they have created little gardens on the dusty soil. But I cannot think of putting even one plant in this earth, as we cannot build anything like ‘home’ when one of us is missing.

Home is where your family is – together!” 

On the other side of the continent, up in the North, the 17-year-old Massoud* is counting the days to see his family again.

“I miss my family. I wish they come here to live with me in a house. When I was in Greece, we lived in a tent. There was no language lessons, no school. I was very scared to go out alone. When my parents decided I had to move to Germany alone, I was only 13. They were scared to let me go and I was scared to travel alone, but I was more scared to stay in Greece.

I speak every day on the phone with my family. I want to give them strength. The good thing about Germany is that I am not afraid to go out and that I can go to school again. In my future I want to become a cook. I learned cooking by myself when I arrived in Germany and I had to take care of myself. My mum often cries when we talk on phone, but she is happy that I learned to cook, because she doesn’t need to worry about me being hungry. She knows I can fill my stomach now with tasty food.”

* names changed

“I dream every night of being with him again”

copyright: private

A single father with three minor kids in Greece – his 12-year-old son alone in Germany

Hassan H.* from Afghanistan arrived to Lesvos, Greece with his four children in August 2018. His wife had died in Iran shortly before they escaped from there. When the single father tried to leave Greece through the Balkans a year later, one of his sons got lost and he and his remaining three kids were pushed back to Greece. Later, his son contacted him from Germany, but the father was told by Greek authorities, that he could not apply for family reunification under the given circumstances.

“We stayed seven months in a tent in Moria. There were a lot of fights. I wouldn’t let my kids go out due to fear. I didn’t know how to protect them otherwise. When we were finally transferred to Athens in spring 2019, I was first very happy. From the port we were brought to Skaramangas camp. Upon arrival there I saw a huge village made of containers on a pier near the sea and in the middle, there were dozens of tents. We ended up again living in a tent without electricity in the cold darkness – again unsafe.

One night a tent caught fire and a family got burned. They nearly died. Refugees in the camp then held protests against the conditions. One of my sons got beaten by riot police in the turmoil. My kids were seeing nightmares every night from then on. That was when I decided we should try to leave Greece, because we weren’t safe at last.

I collected some money from friends and we decided to leave from the land border. One tragedy followed the next. My 12-year-old son got lost half way. I thought he had died or been kidnapped. We were arrested and sent back to Greece. … It was a happy day, when my son contacted me from Germany. I heard his voice and all my worries were gone for a moment. I went to the camp employees to ask how we could join my son in Germany. But they said it was too late and we were anyway a “separated child case” and we could not even apply for family reunification because we separated “voluntarily”. I don’t understand what they mean. Our choices are made in a state of emergency while trying to do the best for our family and our situation has not only been a result of our choices but also of our destiny.

How can it be too late for a family to be together?

Now my little boy is there and we are here. We live in a container now, but it is no life if you first lost your wife and the mother of your children, and then you lose a child. I dream every night of being with him again. And I hope until that day, when we can be together again in a better place, I can keep all my kids safe.”

* name changed

Fire in protest at horrific conditions in Amygdaleza pre-removal immigration prison, Athens Greece – footage and words from those detained inside

I am a young man from Syria, detained in Greece. Amygdaleza.  I escaped from the war in my country in order to obtain safety, but I was detained in Greece for a long time. I no longer feel safe, reassured and stable that I was looking for here in the camp. There is nothing and they do not offer us any help. We hope for your help. There is someone who tried to commit suicide because of the difficulties he is facing here.

How I wished and how much I looked. I left my homeland and looked for safety. I looked for freedom. I looked for an alternative homeland. I needed help, but no one gave me a hand. No one comforted me. I dreamed a lot of things and big dreams, but dreams were awake, and now I have fallen again.  Whoever says to me will realize your dreams that I had built when I arrived in Greece I have said this is the beginning of my career and from here I will fulfill my dreams but unfortunately it was not what I expected but the worst was my dreams were broken in front of me I no longer want to achieve those dreams but rather I want to live in peace and security  And stability, I just hope to be a cat that lives in the house with its owners or a dog that lives  I have a private house and its owner takes it on a short walk or I am a rose that grows on the balcony of a house and the owner of the rose takes care of it every day, but I found myself flying in a cage and could not fly as I had dreamed, it was only my fault that I was born in my country where the war broke out and because I no longer  I can dream, I can no longer think. The sun rises every day to increase my suffering again and every night I say Is this what I was looking for Is this life that I had hoped for but I could not answer my question I started dying from all empty promises I can no longer search for myself I wonder  Every day, why does this happen to me? I did nothing but dreams, screaming loudly, I did nothing  Why am I here but nobody hears my screams searched among my papers my numbers books but I did not find myself can I dream again or that dreams not present in the human language dictionary searched and did not find myself

I will write but I do not know what to write. Should I write about the war in my country, or the war in my country? I do not know about it except the smell of blood, the screaming of children, the tears of women, the sadness of youth, the loss of young dreams, or write about the war in me, but I will not be able to describe that war and that outrage, or write  What I feel, but I no longer feel anything, I no longer feel for myself, I no longer feel the spirit that inhabits my body, I no longer find my thinking, I can no longer think of things that I was thinking about before. Has the stage of thinking ended for me or am I thinking that has become restricted? I did not know about  What do I write? Do I write about the freedom I searched for and did not find it or write about the vine  My time is no longer human dignity or write about humanity that I did not find her presence Soh with animals I can not find what you should write about Soh meanings experienced by humans do not know what to write and did not promise I want to write something will just read what they write.

What happened?

What happened Why am I here Why am I in this place that looks like a swamp Why did I become alone in this place What led me here I began to feel tired and I am trying to leave this place I no longer have even a glimmer of hope Will my life end here I no longer dream about a light I have started my life  By fading before my eyes, I no longer see anything but sadness. I see with everyone’s eyes. There is only a question, why are you here. I did not realize that I would be every animal placed inside a cage. Unfortunately, the animal has some rights until it has a name, but I only became a number. I am called through that number.  What happens to human beings as if they do not see it and avoid hearing our screams? Is this it for man?  Why is this life? I don’t think that’s what I was looking for. What happened? Why am I here?

What happened?

Deadly cold

  It was raining and strong winds I tried hard to get to my brother’s bedroom. The suffering of reaching it was dark. The darkness prevailed over the atmosphere of the place, and the land of each swamp had a lot of wetness on the road. I was falling from that to another that I got up and completed my career. I reached my brother’s fortune. It was lightening quickly and quickly closed.  The door was few, the door was not closed with provisions that were as if all kinds of rain and wind were permitted to enter a worn ship taken by the waves. My worn-out coat was removed from me, my worn out coat and I looked at my brother, he was trembling with the freezing cold.  Know how I can comfort myself  My brother just stayed silent. He wrapped himself in a blanket that did not protect him from anything from the cold. My brother embraced me in my arms. I was warming him, even a little. I wanted to burn myself to warm my brother. My tears were falling on my cheeks from pain.  I want something, just save my brother.

drinking water supply in Amygdaleza
food in Amygdaleza
18 people sharing a room in Amygdaleza

Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017

Today in the afternoon more then 50 people gathered in the harbour of Thermi/Lesvos in commemoration of the dead of the European border regime. Among them were survivors of a shipwreck on 23rd of April of this year in the North of Lesvos as well as people active in rescue. The memorial happens once every year since October 2013 and was initiated by the Welcome to Europe network.

When we started to remember this year, who we have to mourn for, we realized that we are more and more confronted with death even after people have survived the sea. We had to commemorate today also friend who died last winter in the hot-spot of Moria, because they had been left during winter in terrible conditions. We are in close contacts with families that they waited too long to be reunited with their beloved even if they had the right for family reunification and died before. If you really want to mourn the dead of the Sea, you have to respect also the survivors. The only solution to end their suffering is to create safe passages, to give the people their right to move freely – and for those who are stuck here to finally open the islands. This is why every memorial for us is combined with the promise to tear down the borders that killed them and to create another, a welcoming Europe.

This year the memorial plate was renewed and fixed. We thank to: the local club of the fishermen ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, Stellios from the shipyard in Kontouroudia, metal work Gianis Moisis, Chrisanthos, Alcalica-ALM eV, Simos and Web copy shop.

Memorial speech

25th of October 2017

We came together today here in the harbour of Thermi for remembering the dead of the European border regime.
Continue reading ‘Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017’

“LOSTINEUROPE” – Interviews about racism in Greece and in Germany

LOSTINEUROPE: racism from the eyes of refugees in Greece and Germany

Message from Migrants concerning sweep in Patras

November 10th, 2012

We are a group of immigrants, illegal ones, who managed to avoid arrest during the “Xenios Zeus” operations that took place in Patras on the 1st of October. During this operation many of our friends were arrested and are now being held for no reason whatsoever in concentration camps (prisons). The reason for writing these words is because our wish is that our message will reach everyone who lives in Greece so that we can make certain things clear, because the State has molded a much distorted image of us.
Continue reading ‘Message from Migrants concerning sweep in Patras’

Letter of the migrants and refugees in Patras


This letter was written and distributed on January 2, 2012 after another beating of refugees had occurred in Patras by the coast guard. The same day a young Afghan refugee died of suffocation in Patras while he was trying to resist the cold weather with his friends inside a truck were they lit a small fire. His two friends survived and are currently hospitalised.

In the name of god,

Since we were small kids in our home countries there was trouble, but we didn’t understand what this trouble was. Later we grew up and we understood that this trouble is war. The seasons were changing and every day became more difficult. On this way we reached today.

Since then and until today we are thinking about our future and what our destiny will be. When we were in our countries they were telling us lies. They told us in Europe we would find democracy and we would get human rights. But it is different here. To build up our lives we have to cross the borders. In Greece this is very difficult.

Continue reading ‘Letter of the migrants and refugees in Patras’

lostatborder

“We wanted to cross the border at the river in two boats. We were many people and two boats. We entered the second boat. 13 persons in a boat for 3! For some reason our boat got into a slipstream. It turned around and we all fell into the water. It was night. Some of us hold on to the boat and reached the Turkish coast. Me and my daughters were carried away by the stream together with another woman and three men. We couldn’t swim. I was struggling to keep myself over the water level in order not to drown. I just heard my daughter shouting: Mum, help me! Then the Turkish border guards found us and pulled me out of the water. I told them about the others and they searched some hours for them without any results. After release from detention in Turkey we crossed again into Greece and went directly to the police. We told them that we lost our children and asked for help. They brought us into another prison.”

S. looking for his friend Saaid in the river


Continue reading ‘lostatborder’

Letter by the Afghan Community: Concerning racist attacks in Athens

On the 18th of September the Afghan Community of Greece sent a letter to the Prime Ministers’ office in order to inform him of the continuing racist attacks against refugees and migrants in Athens and demanding for an immediate intervention by the authorities. The letter was a reaction to a huge number of racist attacks in the last three years, specifically, the last violent aggression of the beginning of August. Three persons had attacked an Afghan asylum seeker with a knife leaving him behind with severe injuries. A witness reported the racist attack and filed charges against the aggressors. The trial is going to be at the 27th September. It is one of the rare occasions when victims of racist attacks actually step away from their fear in order to report the violent act against them. It is also one of the rare incidents when the police actually accepted to register the report of a racist attack.

One of the most fatal results of the race motivated attacks is that they divide us as human beings when we need unity and solidarity the most. In the middle of the financial crisis, immigrants are able to contribute up to a level, promoting Greece abroad and taking part in the financial activity of the country. Racism can become a serious threat to the coexistence of cultures and social progress.

Read the letter in

english
greek

read the press release by the UNHCR (in greek)
PR UNHCR

The Greek police brought us to the border, silently like the smugglers, then they pushed us back

Evros: Push-back of Afghan unaccompanied minor October 2007

The fourth time I tried to enter Greece I came through Evros. The police arrested me and my friend who was also as young as me. We had to discuss a lot until they accepted us to be Afghans. They did not give us food until the next day. Nobody asked how old we are. They only asked our names. They brought us to Tyhero prison, they took our money and mobile phones. We were 200 persons in each cell – in total 400, I think. At least it was like in this in the night we were deported. Minors and adults were all together. We stayed five days. Then they put 50 of us into a truck in the night. After one hour we arrived at the river. We were waiting inside the truck. There was the sound of the Turkish soldiers. We could hear it inside the truck. They started again driving. In another place near the river on a dust road we were told to leave the truck in groups of 20. There were soldiers, civil police, border police. They told us to walk silently and don’t make any noise. Then we had to sit and wait. Then they put us into small inflatable boats – each 20 persons and two Greek police officers. They brought us to the Turkish side and told us to leave. Then they returned. The whole prison was returned to Turkey! Not all from one place, in groups of hundreds they spread us along the border. There were Palestinians, Pakistani, Afghans, Iranians… all boys and men.

The infomobile

... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

Get in touch

email: infomobile.w2eu@gmail.com

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