‘I Regret Taking the Illegal Route’ – Kurdish returnee from Germany

Dlawar Omar from Rwanduz took what he thought would be a positive, life-changing decision in 2015 and decided to invest the money he made working in a barbershop to migrate to Europe. One and half years later he decided to return to Erbil after discovering that everything he was told about life in Europe and seeking asylum was untrue.

“My cousins went to Germany illegally in 2008. Though they haven’t got a permanent residency or citizenship yet, their lives looked beautiful from here. After Da’esh took control of Mosul and big parts of Iraq, I saw that nothing is certain in this country. So I decided to use the money I saved and travel to Europe in any possible way,” said Dlawar.

In description of the journey, Dlawar said that, “The smuggler asked for USD 8,000 where half of it was paid in advance and the other half to be delivered once we arrive to Germany. He told us that we are lucky that there are new big boats available now and because of Da’esh and violence in Iraq, Germany will give us asylum only one month after our arrival. Everything was going well as they promised until we arrived to Germany.”

In Germany Dlawar stayed with more than 150 Kurdish people and other irregular migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, and Libya in a refugee camp in Dusseldorf. He had to hide his Iraqi ID and passport with someone introduced to them by the smuggler and delete any evidence that he is from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq from his social media and phone. “The smuggler told us to identify ourselves as Kurdish Syrians from Afrin,” Dlawar continued.

It took Dlawar a year and half to present his asylum case in court, however, his application was rejected due to lack of evidence proving that he was from Afrin and his life was in danger.

Dlawar had the opportunity to appeal the decision and wait for another four to eight months. But Dlawar had already made his decision, “After a year and a half and after spending around USD 13,000 I knew that this was all a lie. I met my cousins and saw their lives. One of them worked in a pizza place and the other washes cars. I used to have a much better life in Erbil and with the money I spent in the last year, I could do many things in Erbil and live a better life than staying in this camp and just waiting and waiting.”

Dlawar took back his passport and requested voluntary return to Erbil. Two months after his return, Dlawar opened an electronics and kitchen appliances shop in Erbil in partnership with one of his friends.

In a response of how he feels about his decision to return, Dlawar says, “Life is not easy. Wherever you are you have to work hard to make money and have a good life. Now I have this shop here, which works really well, I mean some days are good and some days are bad, but this is how business is. And hopefully after two months I will get married. I regret taking the illegal route, if I didn’t spend the USD13,000 on a failed journey, probably I would’ve been married and a father right now.”

According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), more than 3000 individuals have returned to Iraq from Europe through IOM’s returnee support programs in 2015 and the numbers have increased in 2016 and 2017.

TMP – 18/07/2018

Photo credit: IOM. Photo caption: Iraqi refugees voluntarily returning back to Iraq from Belgium.