Finish The Journey or Be Killed – Inside Human Smuggling

The number of asylum applications in Europe has skyrocketed because human smugglers have free rein. Their work greatly influences the European Union’s immigration policy and that is inhumane, Dutch legal scholar Afshin Ellian told the television program Goedemorgen Nederland. Deldar Naraiwal from Afghanistan, an asylum seeker who came to Europe via human smugglers has sat down with FactRefuge to share his story. “We are seen as merchandise.”

Deldar Naraiwal is sitting at a table in a small coffee shop in Budapest. A small, petite man of 70, wearing a neat, dark blue suit. He modestly sips a glass of water. “I was born in Nangarhar province, near the capital Kabul, not far from the border with Pakistan,” he says as his fingers play with the glass of water. “My father was a teacher, my mother a housewife. I married the woman I am still married to today. We had eight children.”

After college, Deldar and his wife moved to the Afghan capital of Kabul and worked in customer service at the Ministry of Finance. He had a quiet, normal life until in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded the country and waged war there for 10 years. Then civil war broke out in Afghanistan and life in Afghanistan’s capital became even more difficult and harder.

Soldiers ride aboard a Soviet BMD airborne combat vehicle. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / US Department of Defence)
Soldiers ride aboard a Soviet BMD airborne combat vehicle. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / US Department of Defence)

 

“My wife’s family had fled to Pakistan. We sold our house, left our belongings and went after my in-laws. But I was struggling there. I had no job and I had lost my self-esteem. I was living on my in-laws’ money, a life that was not mine. I had to fight to get my daughters into elementary and high school because the area was so strictly Muslim. I wanted to go back to Kabul and waited ten years for things to calm down. When that didn’t happen, I wanted to go to Europe where my daughters could study.”

According to Deldar, the only way to get to Europe was through smugglers.

“That worked the same way then as it still works today. You can find them on every street corner. They are in travel agencies, little offices where you can book trips. You go in there and ask if they can smuggle you to Europe.”

He decided to go alone, because the smuggling route with wife and children was too dangerous. And too costly: Deldar already had to pay 10,000 USD for his trip in 1999. “I got a fake passport and a Russian visa within a week. The people smugglers have friends all along the route: at airports, checkpoints and police in different countries. So many people are involved in this human trafficking, unbelievable.”

Afghan refugee Deldar Naraiwal giving an interview to FactRefuge. (Photo: FactRefuge / Mariska Mediahuis)
Deldar Naraiwal (Photo: FactRefuge / Mariska Mediahuis)

 

With ten other illegal migrants, Deldar flew to Turkmenistan where he was waited on by other human smugglers. These took the group to a hotel and two days later they traveled 72 hours by train to Moscow. On the way, police stopped them, and immediately saw that their visas were fake. All ten of them put down 300 USD; 30,000 USD altogether was enough to bribe the police and move on. From Moscow, they headed to Kyiv where 70 immigrants from different regions like Afghanistan, Africa and Bangladesh were gathered in an apartment. In a tractor with a large trailer, the 68 men and two women were driven to Ukraine’s border with Hungary. “The smugglers treated us like merchandise, not people. It was terrible. They piled us into four Mercedes without seats, where we had to lie on top of each other. When I didn’t want to, they threatened me with guns.

“I had to finish my trip with these smugglers, otherwise I would have been killed.”

“We had to walk for nine hours through a jungle from Ukraine to Hungary. There was an old woman with us; she couldn’t handle this long trek. One of the two smugglers wanted to shoot her on the way. I then asked the strongest, biggest man if he would carry her on his neck.”

Eventually they ended up in Budapest from where Deldar wanted to go to Denmark or Norway because he had a friend living in Norway. But in Hungary, he was picked up by Hungarian police and taken to a refugee camp. After less than a year, he was granted legal refugee status and his family was able to come over.

A few times he went to Germany to move on to Scandinavia, but each time he still moved back to Hungary where he started a small store for cooking utensils in Budapest.

Afghan refugee Deldar Naraiwal giving an interview to FactRefuge. (Photo: FactRefuge / Mariska Mediahuis)

 

Now he is happy. “I live a normal life. Hungary is ahead of the rest of the European Union in immigration policy. Orbán leads by example; the rest will adopt his views on refugees. I am a refugee myself, but Europe cannot handle more immigrants. The vast majority, as much as 95 percent, of immigrants have never had an education. They will never be able to settle in Europe, build a life here or find a place in our society. In addition, everyone comes here via mafia bosses and smugglers. People are seen as commodities. It is good that Hungary has closed its borders; Germany will do the same in a few years.”

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