Tired of the crippling war and killing in Afghanistan, 23-year-old Sadaf and her 65-year-old mother decided to flee to Europe in the hope of better life.
They first decided to travel to Iran, which, according to Sadaf's mother, caused many difficulties.
Sadaf said they came to Iran with a lot of problems as it was not easy for two women with no male companions to travel around for hours.
A glimpse of her revealed she was lost in thoughts about the troubling past that never left her alone. Coming back from the deep thoughts, Sadaf said they began the treacherous journey late in the night at the border between Iran and Turkey.
She recalled that the border was difficult to cross and that many lost their ability to walk. 'The travelers lost their lives in exhaustion and became food for the animals in the wild.'
Sadaf paused for a moment, as if she remembered something. She said a mother accompanying them on the way was forced to abandon her eight-month-old baby in a box on a mountain. According to Sadaf, the mother was forced to leave her infant child after the smuggler warned that if she does not silence her child or abandon him, they will leave both in the wilderness.
The smugglers made us walk for hours and hours nonstop on pledges of reaching the Turkish border, she said.
They arrived in Turkey after about ten hours of walking. Passengers have to rent a hotel room until traveling to Greece. The inn looked more like a jail than the place of stay for travelers. Sadaf said she encountered people who had been stranded there for months and were working tirelessly to earn money for the traffickers.
Finally, after a month's stay in Turkey, the traffickers told them to prepare themselves for a trip to Greece. It was four o'clock in the morning as they were leaving for Greece in boats capable of 15 to 20 people carrying at least 80 people.
According to Sadaf, the smuggler first took from them the money and did not get himself into the boats that were heavily loaded with passengers. From here onwards only the experienced travelers were in charge.
Sadaf said she saw many drowned boats and passengers submerged in water. The cries of women and children could be heard from far away, she sighed.
Sadaf, her mother and some other travelers eventually arrived in Germany, a country they once dreamed of. "At first glance, I realized that what I thought about it (Germany) was totally different. It was country with alien culture, alien people, and alien lifestyle," Sadaf said.
They were transferred to a refugee camp in Germany, but the problems persisted. There was a shared kitchen, a shared toilet, and worst of all, poor quality of food that was often not eatable for them. Months later, Sadaf and her mother finally obtained a residence permit in Germany. But, more problems for them started right after that including learning a foreign language and paying different fees.
To make ends meet, she was finally compelled to do whatever she could to pay taxes and other expenses at the end of each month.
According to Sadaf, there was no sense of humanity in foreign countries, and even "dying on the road is irrelevant to others."
The young woman said most immigrants in European countries are now regretting to go to these countries in the first place, but are unable to return to the country because they have spent all their livelihoods on reaching these countries and now have no alternative.
After spending months in Germany, Sadaf and her mother returned to Afghanistan. She is now living in Kabul striving hard to start new life from scratch.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a mechanism which is developed by the Afghan government’s High Commission to combat trafficking and smuggling. The purpose of this mechanism is to help government and NGOs to identify, refer, assist, and protect the VoTs and prosecute traffickers in a coordinated manner as outlined in the Afghanistan TiP Law 2017.
Article 9 of the NRM states the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation is bound to deliver services noted below to the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants:
• Provision of the ground for returning nationals trafficked by smugglers to foreign countries, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant international bodies.
• Organize an annual work plan and implement it to fight human trafficking and trafficking of immigrants.
• Submitting a quarterly report on its Implementation to the High Commission against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Trafficking of Migrants.
• Carrying out other legal tasks assigned to the Ministry of Refugees by the High Commission against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Trafficking of Migrants
The MoRR spokesman Abdul Basit Ansari told Salam Watandar a proposed draft awaits presidential approval that would pave way for distribution of residential plots among those voluntarily returning from abroad. He added the returnees forced out by the host countries are provided with cash support.
Based on the statistics by the International Organization of Migration, more than 10,000 Afghan returned from Iran and over two thousand more Afghans were forced to leave Pakistan in the first six months of 2019. The number of those returning voluntarily reached the 85000 figure in this period.
In these six months, some 800 Afghans have returned from European countries.
Prior to it, the MoRR said hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been forced to leave Iran after the U.S. imposed latest sanctions on Tehran.