Mohammad Ashraf, a resident of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, long ago decided to go to a European country with the help of human traffickers. Ashraf says: “My family and I are not very literate, and we farm to meet the needs of the family. Our income was bad and my family and I made the decision that I should go to Europe to get the citizenship of one of the European country to live in.”
“Some of our friends live in European countries, and their lives are better than ours. Their living conditions seem to be better. Since my family and I were in the midst of an economic problem, and there were few work opportunities for those with little education, we decided that I would to move to Europe. I had the plan to earn money as a farmer or driver and provide a better life for myself and my family,” explains Ashraf.
At the beginning, Ashraf was unaware of the problems and costs of the illegal route.
“I did not have the money to travel to Europe, therefore I sold my livestock and borrowed some money from my friends and then started my trip to Iran through Pakistan. I joined others with the same plan and on the way to Iran we were confronted by thieves several times, they threatened us with their guns, but fortunately we were not harmed.”
Ashraf continues: “Most human traffickers are involved with thieves who beat people and take all their money. Many human traffickers then sell the travelers to other human traffickers once the money is gone. In return for their release, these new traffickers demand money from their families. The trafficker warns the traveler’s family that they will kill the hostage if they do not pay.”
“But what was most painful to me were the bodies and bones of the dead people I saw on the border between Iran and Turkey. They had either been killed by the border police or by thieves.” Ashraf said.
Ashraf finally reached Germany. He says: “After reaching Germany, I surrendered to the police and they sent me to a refugee camp in that country.”
Ashraf explains: “In Germany, I realized that I had two problems. One problem was the residence permit. The other problem was that I had very little education, and to be able to live and work in Germany I would have first of all needed to learn German. I was an illiterate person and had never studied before and never learned another language than my own. This was a big problem.”
Ashraf continues: “When I returned to Afghanistan, I lost what I had in my country, and my family’s hopes of me earning money in Europe remained unfulfilled. My life is worse now than ever before and it’s hard to find a new path and to regain what I had in my country before I travelled to Europe.”
“What I hope for those who are tempted to go to European countries is that they do not get seduced by the promises of human traffickers and do not risk their lives. They should find ways to develop a good life in their own country and live comfortably,” concludes Ashraf.