Abbas and his family
“Midway, the boat started to take on water and soon it came to a halt. We were absolutely frightened”, Abbas recounts of the perilous sea crossing between Turkey and Greece back in March 2016. Thankfully, the Greek coast guard came to the rescue and the refugees were taken to Alexandroupolis, northern Greece.
It took one month for Abbas, his wife Sirwa and their two children, Mohamad and Tina, to make it from their native Kirkuk, Iraq, to the Turkish coast. A combination of local tribal conflicts and the presence of ISIS forces meant that fleeing was the Kurdish family’s only option. Like so many others, they were hoping to reach Germany, France or Belgium. However, by the time they arrived in Greece, the European borders were closing fast. They had to re-evaluate their situation.
“We got word about the relocation programme by fellow refugees. Two months after our arrival, we moved to Athens, in an apartment, waiting to be relocated”, says Abbas. Now, the big day has come and the family is ready to move to Norway. At the question of how do they feel about it, Abbas’ face brightens up in a split second: “We are so glad!” he exclaims. “I was a blacksmith in Iraq and hopefully I’ll be able to get a similar job in Norway. All we want is a calm, safe life. And education for our children”.
“But the Greeks have been very nice to us, too”, his wife Sirwa adds. “And we are really satisfied with IOM’s help all the way through the process of relocation”. Her son, 10-year-old Mohamad, interrupts her – in Greek: “I like that we are going to Norway, I want to go to school. I have only been to school here in Greece and I love maths”! His mother comments that it’s football that he loves the most and Mohamad giggles as the family poses for a photo.
Through the EU Relocation Programme, the International Organization for Migration in Greece (IOM) supports the Government of Greece in relocating with safety and dignity asylum seekers to other EU Member States of Relocation (MSR). The Programme is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF).