Kurdish returnee recounts traumatic journey to Europe

Despite risking his life to reach Europe, Miran Gardi, a young Kurdish migrant, decided to return home to Kurdistan. The Migrant Project spoke with Miran about his dangerous journey to Europe and why he abandoned the European dream.

Like many other young Kurds, Miran was lured to migrate to Europe irregularly by the false promises of smugglers and the myths and misconceptions portrayed online. In late August 2015, 20-year-old Miran set off on his journey from Erbil towards Turkey in an attempt to seek asylum in Germany.  

Miran paid a smuggling network to reach Europe. He explained, “All smugglers work in a network. The smuggler I contacted was living in Germany, but he was connected with smugglers in Turkey who handed us to another smuggler in Bulgaria and then to another one in Serbia.”

Miran remembers his fraught journey to Europe, “We went through unimaginable things until we arrived in Germany.”

Lured by false promises, the smugglers told Miran that they would reach Europe by bus and that they would only need to walk for a few hours. But the reality was different.

“We walked for more than 50 hours until we got to Germany. We walked in the dirt and rain through the forests of Bulgaria. We got caught twice by the police in Bulgaria. They beat us, took our money, and returned us back to the Turkish borders in Edirne,” he said.

Eventually Miran made it to Germany and applied for asylum but it quickly became apparent that he would not have the life he had expected in Europe.

“People were nice in Germany, but in a country where you just have to wait, there are no jobs, no family, no money, and you think about all the things you had back home, there is no way someone can stay like that.”

Miran stayed in Germany for six months hoping the situation would get better for asylum seekers. But despite his suffering on the dangerous journey, he decided to return home.

Since 2015, over 9, 000 Iraqis in Germany have returned home through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) voluntary return programme.

Today, Miran runs a small tourism business in Kurdistan. He told The Migrant Project that he wished he had invested the USD 7,500 that he paid to the smuggler to improve his business. Despite the financial loss,  he is glad to be back in Kurdistan.

“I decided to come back and make a better future here. I missed my family a lot. I couldn’t stay alone for much longer.”

TMP 21/02/2019

Photo: Migrants pass through many transit countries on their way to Europe.

Credit: Shutterstock