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After failed migration attempt, Kurdish returnee still in debt to smuggler

Ahmed Gorran, a Kurdish migrant, made the difficult decision to leave his wife and two children in Iraqi Kurdistan in search of better opportunities in Germany. But after many failed migration attempts he decided to return home.  Ahmed told The Migrant Project about his expensive and ultimately futile attempt to reach Europe.

“You never know the blessings you have until you lose them. This is what I want people to know, ”said Ahmed, reflecting on his traumatic experience. “I had everything here. It was not perfect, but I had a life. I didn’t appreciate any of this until it was gone,” Ahmed continued.

Like many migrants, Ahmed took a risky and dangerous route to reach Germany. He paid a smuggler to travel through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia, and Croatia.

Ahmed said the smugglers kept asking for more money after every setback.

“Every time we got caught, the smugglers kept promising that the other route would be better. That’s how we ended up running from one country to another, and getting caught, beaten, threatened, and then failing again.”

The smuggler took all of Ahmed’s identification documents at the start of the journey.

“We didn’t have any documents. I walked for more than 32 hours. They sold us from one smuggler to another. We spent days in the forest. Some days we only ate once and other days we didn’t even have water to drink,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed said the smuggler asked for USD 70,000 to take him to Europe. He was told to pay half in advance and the other half once he arrived in Germany. However, Ahmed is still in debt to the smuggler as he decided to come back voluntarily and still owes USD 1,800.

After many failed migration attempts, Ahmed eventually decided to return home. Ahmed returned to Erbil from Serbia through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) voluntary return programme after spending six months attempting to reach Europe as an irregular migrant.  Since 2015, over 9,000 Iraqis in Germany have returned home through the IOM voluntary return programme.

Through assistance from IOM, Ahmed now works with his brother at a driving school in Erbil although the position is only temporary.

The Migrant Project asked Ahmed if he would attempt to reach Europe irregularly again. He said, “I will never ever do that again and I stopped some family members from making the same mistake.”

Ahmed said he will look for legal and safe alternatives to reach Europe. He said, “I definitely want to go to Europe, and I have applied for a visa for myself and my family. I think waiting for a visa is a much safer option than trusting smugglers.”

TMP – 18/02/2019

Photo: Irregular migrants attempting to cross the border into Europe may be caught by the authorities if they lack the right documentation.

Credit: Shutterstock