Shamshad returned to Afghanistan in 2011. He initially left in 2008, when the security problems in his home province of Ghazni worsened, the then 17-year old decided to migrate to Europe with his older brother.
“After working in Iran for some time, we had made enough to pay a smuggler to take us to Greece. There, we again stayed for a few months to save up for the smuggling fee from Greece to Europe.” Life in Greece as an irregular migrant worker wasn’t bad, Shamshad recalled, but then one night, his brother was arrested by the police. “He was brought to a detention centre and when I tried to find out what happened to my brother, they told me that he had committed suicide while in detention. I just don’t believe that, I am sure the authorities lied to me, something must have happened to my brother while in detention,” he said firmly. After that incident, he was determined to reach Europe as quickly as possible.
He eventually made it to Norway but once there, he realized life wasn’t what he had expected. Despite what the smugglers had told him, it wasn’t easy at all to be granted asylum. After waiting for 1.5 years for a decision on his case, he was rejected twice and decided to return voluntarily to Afghanistan. “With the help of IOM, I set up a shop to sell used parts for cars and motorcycles. I literally returned with nothing, and given the bad security situation in Ghazni, I also couldn’t return home. If IOM hadn’t helped me to set up a shop in Herat (a rather secure province at that time) I wouldn’t have known what to do,” said Shamshad.
He is married now, and a father of two young children aged three and two. Although it isn’t always easy to make ends meet due to the worsening security situation, he has no desire migrate again: “If there is no specific threat on my life or the life of my family members, I will never migrate irregularly again. It just is such a huge waste of time and resources.”
He now hopes that IOM can support him with a small cash grant so that he can further expand his shop and improve his economic situation.