From Nimroz, a risky route to riches in Europe
ZARANJ (Pajhwok): “I wanted to make it to Europe but faced many problems on the way and couldn’t reach my dreamland. Even if I am killed, I won’t give up my mission.”
Shamsuddin, hailing from western Farah province, told Pajhwok Afghan News he was waiting for a smuggler to take him across the Nimroz border to Iran on his uncertain trip to Europe.
Nimroz province, bordering Iran, witnesses thousands of youth streaming daily into the neighboring country, from where some of the fortunate ones go to Turkey before undertaking an agonising voyage to Europe.
Human smugglers acknowledge around 3,000 Afghans, including women and children, embark on the perilous expedition on a daily basis from Nimroz province.
Shamsuddin recalls four months back he had gone through the same route to Iran, facing immense challenges. From Nimroz, he travelled to Mushkin locality of Pakistan. From there, he trekked for a week to arrive in Iran.
Harassed by human traffickers and policemen, he admits: “We weren’t safe in Iran either. We would have to walk for seven to eight hours to get past a security post. Then we would get back to the road to take a car. We repeated this fatiguing exercise at each security post.”
If anybody is left behind, no one would care for them as human smugglers argue any wait could lead to arrests. “While walking, I saw the bodies of people who had died of hunger, thirst or lack of physical ability to walk the distance.”
He has had to contend with similar challenges and brave a whole host of hardships, but still prefers taking the dicey route to Europe to living a life of joblessness and insecurity in Afghanistan.
After his arrival in Iran, Shamsuddin was taken to a town near the Turkey border, where he was detained along with his countrymen by police. Subsequently, they were deported to Afghanistan.
“There is no job here and I don’t feel secure. Even if I don’t succeed for 10 times, I will still have a shot at making it to Europe,” remarks the young man, palpably tired of the privations haunting him here.
Mohammad Hashim, a Nimroz border police official, says six Afghan youth -- dreaming to make it big in foreign climes -- were recently killed in a traffic accident in Iran. Their bodies were shifted to Nimroz; two of them were from northern Takhar province.
Ismatullah, belonging to Maidan Wardak province, is also waiting for a human smuggler in Nimroz province to take him abroad. Only three months back, he was deported by Iranian police.
“There is widespread poverty, hunger and unemployment in in my benighted homeland. If the government provides job opportunities for youth, nobody would vote with their feet,” he notes.
Germany and some other European countries recently allowed entry to migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But several migrants including Afghans died on the way to Europe when their ship sunk.
Illegal migrants in Europe claim traffickers charge $1,200 for taking a person from Nimroz to Turkey. The total travel expenses come to $60,000 per head. The cost has come down by 50 per cent as too much people travel illegally.
“We actively participated in the election in the hope of seeing peace and reconstruction in our country, but no one has paid attention to people’s security and employment. In order to eke out a living for our families, we have to leave the country,” remarks a resident of Herat, Ghulam Hussain.
The Nimroz Refugee and Repatriation Affairs Department confirms 15 families, including 300-400 youths, are deported daily from Iran to the province.
Exact figures for the people leaving the country daily are hard to ascertain because many of them opt for illegal immigration, says Refugee and Repatriation Affairs Director Mohammad Akbar Chakhansori.
Another official of the department, who wished anonymity, discloses nearly 2,000 individuals leave the country through that province. They are first taken to Pakistan, then Iran and Turkey, but the government has no viable plan to prevent the exodus.
More often than not, they are robbed by muggers and smugglers in addition to being insulted, shot and beaten up by Iranian and Turkish border security guards.
However, recent research by White Movement Organisation reveals nearly 78,000 people have left for Europe and Turkey to seek asylum there, compared with 53,000 in 2014.
Statistics from the Union of Afghanistan Youths show nearly 120,000 youths are suffering from joblessness and some of them are trying to travel to neighbouring countries in quest of work.
A World Bank report says 180,000 youths are added to the Afghan population annually but only 60,000 get the opportunity to work. The rest have to struggle with unemployment.
The National Workers Association estimates nearly 16 million Afghans who are eligible for work, but only 3 million have jobs. The remaining 13 million are jobless.
On the other hand, the minister of works and social affairs, martyrs and disabled puts the number of unemployed Afghans at nearly 4 million.
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