Farid was born in Iran, and lived there for all of his life with his parents. When life became increasingly difficult for Afghans in Iran, and it became harder to support his family, he decided to leave his 6 year old son with his parents since his wife had died a few years earlier, and paid a smuggler to take him to Austria.
After 16 months of waiting in a reception centre without being allowed to work, his asylum case was rejected. Frustrated that he had waited for so long, but still was rejected, he decided that he did not want to appeal but preferred to return to his country of origin, not his country of birth. “I realized that it was just very difficult for single men to get their asylum cases accepted, so I thought it would be best to return to Afghanistan instead of waiting and perhaps getting rejected a second and final time,” the widower said of his decision to return to Afghanistan in January 2018. “I had never been to Afghanistan before, but through the IOM support, I managed to build a life here.”
IOM staff helped him to set up a grocery store because “a grocery store contains goods that everyone needs on a daily basis, so even if there is a lot of competition around, I thought I was most likely to earn an income through a grocery store,” he said. Although the IOM assistance wasn’t enough to set up his own store, he managed to find a partner through distant relatives in Herat city.
When asked about his future plans, Farid was unsure. “I have spent my entire life in Iran, and my parents are there. But since I have this store here now, I will stay for at least another year. And who knows, if I manage to find another wife in this town, I might stay here and ask my son to come to Afghanistan to live with me instead of going back to Iran. Afghanistan has its problems, but at least I no longer have the mental insecurity of being an irregular migrant that I had in both Iran and Austria.”