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United Kingdom

Wakil Ahmad Mawlawizada, 17

Refugee from Herat, Afghanistan, now living in London with five years to remain in the UK

I had to leave Afghanistan because my life was in danger. I had problems with the Taliban. If I hadn’t left they would have killed me. I don't think it's true that Afghanistan is better than before. Everyday the Taliban, or the government, or Al Qaeda, kill people. Every day and in every city it's happening.

I arrived in London on 3rd of February, 2012. I think the journey took about seven months. I didn’t know at the time but my uncle paid US$ 20,000 to an agent.

When I left Afghanistan I went to Iran. I think it took one month. We walked every day and night in the mountains with other people and the agent. Sometimes we travelled in a small car. There were 12 of us in a car with four seats. When we got to Iran my agent changed and I don’t know how many days I was in Iran before I travelled to Turkey. I hid in the forest on the Iran Turkey border for two or three nights with other people, every time the agent changed. Once we crossed the border we travelled in a vehicle with 30 - 35 other people to Istanbul, when we got there our agent changed again.

From Istanbul we went to Greece where I went to the police and told them, ‘I am from Afghanistan, I don’t have any papers, I don’t have any passport.'  They held me for a night in the police station gave me some papers and told me I had to leave the country within a month. I stayed in Greece for three months in a small room with other people. Our new agent  told us to be quiet, it was dangerous to make a noise. If the police found us they would deport us to Afghanistan. After three months the agent took us to a forest on the coast where we took a small boat with about 35 other people to Italy.

The agent told us it would take six hours to get to Italy. When I asked the driver of the boat he told us three days. After three days the engine broke down and the driver said he couldn’t fix it. We were stuck in the middle of the sea and we begged him to call the police. He said he couldn’t do that. All the people just cried. The next day a helicopter circled over us and the following day a ship picked us up and took us to Italy. I was in Italy one night then a different agent took me and I came to France by train.

We were taken to another forest. I don’t remember how many days we were there but one night the agent told us to be ready because in the next day or two we would go the next country. I didn’t understand where we were going. At night we went to a lorry park and got into a fridge lorry. The lorry was very cold, filled with tomatoes with the fridge going on and off. There were four of us in there. I was thinking my life is in danger. I came here for a better life, what is happening to us? I thought the same when we were in the boat. I didn’t know anything about London. At seven or eight the next morning we arrived in London. The agent had told me that when you arrive in London you go to the police and your journey is finished. 

I found an Afghan man who asked me where I wanted to go. I told him I wanted to go the police station. He said, 'you are not going to the police station, you have to go to the Home Office, because the Home Office belongs to refugee people.' I went there and after that I finish.

I have refugee status for five years. I think my life now is much better because I am not in danger. I can go outside. I go to college. But there is never one night when I don't remember that I left my family. Afghanistan was the best. I had everything. I was with my family all the time, every day, every night. Around the one room, with my father, my mother, my sister, speaking, talking, laughing. I was so happy.