05 Jan 2022
By: Sarah Ali
“Migrating to Europe is not worth leaving everything you own. You will not easily get the life you were dreaming of. It is better to build your life where you are, in your country.”

This is how Hanan, a 32-year-old from Erbil, describes what she realized after a dangerous migration to Germany.

“I decided to go to Europe with my mother in August 2017 – irregularly, using smugglers. We waited for four months somewhere between Turkey and Greece for the right time to travel to the latter. We spent a lot of money and time; we were tired and often went hungry. When the smugglers told us that we would have to cross the sea I was very afraid, and my instinct proved right. On that boat, I experienced horrifying moments. I thought we would never survive the trip. The waves were so high, the sea so angry, I thought our death was imminent.

When we arrived in Germany after this long and tiring journey, I thought that my dream would finally come true and that I would live in luxury, but when they took us to a camp full of people living in difficult conditions and receiving little attention, I realized that whoever chooses the path of irregular migration will get tired, and they will starve even more.

There will be no time to rest. The trip will not be quick, and it will never be easy. I now remember those moments and would never recommend going to Europe. If I had known that migrating would prove to be such a difficult experience, I would not have chosen to go.

One of the things I couldn't bare was living alone. Since I was older than 18, the authorities didn’t let me stay with my mother and brother (who were already in Germany). I lived in a city seven hours away from my family. I had just arrived in Germany and had to live completely alone.

Irregular immigration cost us a lot, but the main reason we returned home was that during the trip – which took so long – we ran out of medication for my mother, and this worsened her condition. She was very sick and had to be admitted to a hospital as soon as we arrived; she remained there for two months, and even after she was discharged, she continued to suffer from her condition. We were told that her situation was critical. We decided to go back without waiting for our residency request to be processed.

After five months of suffering, we returned to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. With the help of IOM, we were able to start our lives again. We received financial support to rent a house and buy furniture, and I now have a job.

I do not intend to go to Europe again, and particularly not irregularly ‒ doing so kills the future of those who make that mistake. People can live in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq among their family and build their future if they work diligently. Life is not that hard here, but realizing this required a dangerous journey that almost killed us,” says Hanan.


Share your feedback on this story via the link below:

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities