Alessandro Penso
Ahmed (not real name) is from Mosul, Iraq, and decided to flee to Turkey when the security situation became increasingly tense in his home town. Unable to secure a good life for himself and his family in Turkey, he decided to try and get to Europe to seek asylum, but the journey turned out to be much harder than he had thought.
“My initial idea was to pay a smuggler to go from the coastal town of Mersin on a ship to Italy. We all had to slide down some very steep slopes to a small boat that waited for us, which then brought us out to a bigger boat. But after that, we were soon surrounded by Turkish coastguards who told us to turn back. When the captain refused to do so, they started to fire rubber bullets at people onboard. Soon after, a Turkish army ship appeared and started to fire real bullets at the engine. The captain then gave up and the boat was escorted back to Istanbul, where I was held in custody.
After this, I tried to enter Europe through the Turkish border with Bulgaria, but my group was stopped by Turkish police before we could reach the border.
I then paid a smuggler to take me from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios, but the boat was stopped by Turkish coastguards twice and sent back to Turkey. On the third attempt, I found myself crammed together with fifty other people in a small rubber boat. At sea, the boat was nearly about to sink, but the Greek coastguard rescued us at the last minute and brought us to Chios. There, I spent five days, sleeping rough in the open, with hardly anything to eat, before finally getting the permission to leave the island for Athens.
In Athens, I made five attempts to board planes to get to Germany, but was turned back at the security desk each time because I didn’t have the right documentation.
I am now attempting to make the journey to Germany on foot through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. I know that the rest of the trip will continue to be difficult. But there is no other hope for me than to eventually reach Germany and apply for asylum so that I can bring the rest of my family there.”