06 Jan 2022
By: Sarah Ali
“I was not happy with my daughter-in-law and her children’s request that I go with them to Germany. I wanted to stay close to my family and in the village where I was born and had always lived.”

This is how Konaf Khalaf, 55, from Sinjar describes her feelings around her decision to emigrate. 

“The main reason we decided to emigrate was our fear of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). When they took over our areas in 2014, ISIL kidnapped my husband and two of my sons, and we did not know their whereabouts or whether they were still alive.  

We left for Germany on 22 September 2015 with IOM’s support. 

The trip was easy and smooth. We took a direct flight from Erbil, and when we arrived, things were ready for us because we had come legally and with the government’s knowledge and approval. They even took us on tours to visit some of Germany’s cities! However, I could not adapt to the country or feel happy. I longed for my homeland and missed my family. Homesickness was killing me.   

The Government had promised that when I arrived, I would receive counselling for my post-traumatic stress disorder, which I had developed since my husband and sons had disappeared. The authorities lived up to their promise; I attended counselling sessions, but I was still not comfortable with anything. I was constantly worried, and the desire to go back to my village never went away. I felt that Europe was suitable for young people, but not for me. Visiting for tourism would have been one thing but living there was another. 

I would walk around the streets crying. I could not stop. I decided to tell the German authorities that I wanted to return to my home village. Five years had passed, the pain had not eased, and all I wanted was to die in my country, not of sadness away from home.  

I returned to Iraq and was thrilled to finally be back in my village – I just missed my grandchildren, who stayed in Germany. I wish I could be in both places, in both worlds. I also miss my daughter, whom I managed to bring to Germany three months after we got there. ISIL had kidnapped her, but we obtained her release by paying a ransom of USD 15,000.  

Nevertheless, the joy of being back outweighed everything else. When I came back to Iraq, I felt that my soul had returned to my body. I saw my other daughters and their children, and I went to visit our close family members and friends. It was like a big family reunion.  

Now I live among friends and relatives in complete comfort, and I feel that my heart is where it should be because I am with my family. I never wished for more than that, and I do not intend to emigrate again. It’s true that I miss my grandsons and daughter, but I hope that they will come and visit me here in our village.  


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