Massoud, together with his wife and two daughters, came to Greece from Afghanistan a year and a half ago. They spent most of this time at Elliniko, the former Athens international airport turned into an unofficial camp site during the peak of the refugee crisis. It’s been three months now that Elliniko, infamous for the harsh living conditions, was evacuated. Massoud and his family were among the 350 people who moved to the renovated accommodation centre close to the historic city of Thiva.
“Leaving our motherland was a not an easy decision to make. However, there are many problems in Kabul: security issues, suicide attacks, bombs, constant gunfire. These are some of the reasons people from Afghanistan are coming to Europe. There’s no security, we cannot walk in the streets because we don’t know when another bomb is going to blast, there’s always trouble and it’s getting worse.
So, we left in 2016 and it took us about 28 days to arrive. It was a really bad journey. It’s dangerous when you cross the borders and even more dangerous when crossing the sea. But people are doing it because they don’t have much of a choice.
We crossed to Greece before the EU-Turkey deal, the border was still open. We arrived on the island of Chios in February and went straight to the northern border, where tried to cross to Macedonia. However, by that time, the border had closed. We didn’t stay at the makeshift camp, there was no way I’d let my family stay there. We came back to Athens, to the unofficial site of Elliniko.
The experience there was not good, there were way too many people, we were living in tents. At first it was really bad and to be honest, it never got better until we settled here in Thiva. It’s been 3 months that we live here and we feel so much better. People finally have a nice place to live, the conditions are so improved. Each family has its own space, either a container or an apartment, a place we can call home. We can cook, we have running hot water, air conditioning and solar panels. We are very well equipped, everything’s really good. And the people working here are really nice, they listen to us, they help us.
Back in Afghanistan I was working for European companies in the field of logistics and I’ve learnt English through my work, a fact that has helped me a lot. I would like to build a life here in Greece, get a job to support my family. My wife and the girls want to stay here in Greece, the people are nice and friendly, everyone is treating our children with love and I really like that.
I believe that our future is going to be better, for my daughters in particular. That’s why people are coming to Europe, to ensure a bright future for their kids. My girls are 9 and 4. The older one goes to school here in the camp and come September, she will attend the local Greek school. I’m really looking forward to see her back to school!”
* IOM Greece is addressing the need to ensure safe and dignified living conditions for migrants and refugees in Greece with support from the European Commission’s Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations Office.