I am from Afghanistan, from Samangan province. Before the war, I used to work as a mechanic and I used to go to school as well. But then, by the time I grew up, there had been economic problems which obliged me to migrate to another country to find a job and survive. […]
My family is a great, crowded family and in my country there is not enough employment opportunities for us to meet our needs. The economic issues forced us to move abroad and find a job to survive. There is war in my country and war conditions forcibly moved us to elsewhere and I came to İstanbul, to Turkey. As a matter of fact, I came here for economic issues. […]
From Afghanistan to Pakistan, we came by car; then our route was followed by road trip to Iran. It was from Iran that we arrived to Turkey. And the reason why we chose to come to Turkey was because we heard that Turkish people are welcoming. Plus, some other friends of mine had been living in Turkey and we thought those friends could help us to reach some job opportunities. […]
Our families… They didn’t initially support this decision figuring that migrating through illegal routes wouldn’t be easy for us. Later on, my maternal uncle talked with my mother about the route and the vehicles. He told her: “they should go and earn some money there”. And he consoled her by saying: “there would be no problems, many of friends’ sons went and worked there”. In the end, my family was convinced.
It took 23 days from Afghanistan to arrive to Turkey. And the whole journey consisted of 13 days of walk and 10 days of travel by car. I faced lots of difficulties throughout the way.
Nacibullah left Afghanistan as a 16-year-old in 2018 without his family. Two central reasons forced him to flee: For existential economic hardship and because of the war in Afghanistan. In this interview segment, he talks about why he decided to take this step and describes the route he took to get to Turkey.
After living in Konya for a short time, he decided to live in Istanbul because of the numerous job opportunities. In the meantime, Nacibullah, like many other Afghan and other migrants in Turkey, works in an irregular job with physically hard work, low pay and discrimination against non-Turkish employees, in his case in the car industry. The fact that he came to Turkey irregularly and lives there without papers and residence status leads not only to a precarious employment situation, but also to difficulties in finding housing, no protection against discrimination and restrictions on Nacibullah’s freedom of movement. Like Nacibullah, many other forced migrants from Afghanistan lead a precarious, shadowy existence in Istanbul. They often remain out of sight of civil society and organisational support structures, partly because of the fear of deportation or other legal problems due to their irregular stay.
This interview was conducted by Elif Yenigun for the We Refugees Archive in April 2021. It took place online, in Farsi and Turkish.
Translation into English: Elif Yenigun
Translation from English to German © Minor