Last week the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) team continued its assessment of protection concerns facing asylum seekers and migrants on their way to Europe. In Athens, the team interviewed refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.
Among those whom NP interviewed was Aatifa*, an elderly woman from Kabul, Afghanistan, who arrived in Athens, Greece, this week. She and her husband left Afghanistan several years ago due to insecurity, in hopes that their three teenage sons could have a better life in Iran.
However, the family was denied asylum and faced discrimination and threats from local authorities. After her husband succumbed to cancer, she and her sons decided to risk the journey for a better life in Europe. Traveling for over two weeks through snowy mountains across Iran, between the hands of smugglers in Turkey, and across the cold waters of the Aegean in an overcrowded raft, they eventually reached Greece.
When NP met them, Aatifa and her boys had little idea of what to expect for the journey ahead. "We don't know if it's safe or not, but we must go," said the mother, grasping the hand of her youngest son.
Stay tuned for the next update and experiences from Lesvos, Greece in a couple days.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the asylum seekers.