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“After six years in Sweden, I was forcibly deported back to Iraq without my children”

On the morning of 31 January 2018, 45-year-old Zhyan Ahmed*, a mother of three children living in Sweden opened her door to find four policemen. She was handcuffed and detained, and ten days later she landed at Baghdad Airport, having been forcibly deported.

Speaking to The Migrant Project, Zhyan explained that she had married a Kurdish man from Sweden and moved to the country legally with her children from a previous marriage.

When the marriage broke down after three months, Zhyan and her husband divorced and her ex-husband asked the Swedish authorities to deport them back to Iraq. Zhyan and her children had already obtained a two-year temporary residence permit, so, they refused to leave and enjoyed their life in Sweden.

When the two-year period came to an end, the family’s suffering began. Swedish authorities asked them to leave the country immediately.

“My husband did not let us get permanent residency, I applied for residency many times, but it was rejected. Oh my God, we had a terrible life there with no jobs and no income most of the time. Our relatives from Iraq were sending us money,” she said.

“My children were studying and the government cut their allowances after the two years, even though they graduated with good marks. But they could not find any job, believe me, if you don’t get residency there, you don’t have any rights!” she added.

Zhyan and her children were constantly sought by the police and lived in fear of being deported. At times they hid at their friends’ houses for several months.

“On that morning, four policemen came to my house and asked me to go with them. One of my sons was home. I cried and screamed a lot, I told them that I have diabetes, I actually nearly fainted, but they insisted that I go with them. They took me to a prison seven hours away from my home and I was in a solitary confinement at first. Then they put me in a hall with 50 other people waiting to be deported,” she said.

On 7 February, she was put on an airplane with four people guarding her, “I cried a lot, but they didn’t listen to me.”

At Baghdad airport the Iraqi authorities asked her some simple questions and then she flew to Sulaymaniyah airport.

For more than six months, one of Zhyan’s sons has been hiding at a friend’s house. If the police catch him, he will also be deported. Her eldest son married a Swedish girl and her daughter is also married and both are applying for residency once again.

“I have a very hard and severe life here in Kurdistan, I miss them terribly, I always think about my children, I have no job here, nothing left for me, I want nothing but my children, I always look forward to reuniting with them,” she said, sobbing.

*Not her real name

TMP – 26/08/2018