Views from the ground – Arezo:
“I wish I had never left.”

The following story was originally compiled for the Mixed Migration Review 2019 and has been reproduced here for wider access through this website’s readership.

4Mi survey conducted in Jawa Barat (West Java) Indonesia, December 2018.[1]

I am a 35-year-old widow with three children. I was unable to work in Afghanistan, and there was no sign of the security situation there improving. Over the years, many people from my home area left. Friends and family abroad, including my siblings, encouraged me to leave. I longed for better education and healthcare as well as more personal freedom. I set my sights on Australia.

My family and friends helped pay for my journey and gave me lots of information. We kept in touch through apps like Facebook and Viber. They also put me in touch with my first smuggler, who organized the first leg, to Islamabad.

Once I arrived in Pakistan, I registered as a refugee, even though I had not reached my intended
destination. In Pakistan’s Baluchistan region, I witnessed a migrant being sexually assaulted. I don’t know who the attackers were.

Through fellow migrants and a smuggler, I got in touch with other smugglers in Islamabad and they organized my flight to Kuala Lumpur. There, another smuggler helped me get a boat to Jawa Barat, in Indonesia, where I am now.

I could not have made this 8,000-kilometre journey (which, as well as the boat and plane, included stretches on foot and in cars) without smugglers. Some of them lied to me – about routes, money, and what the journey would be like – and one of them abandoned me to fend for myself. Still, it’s thanks to smugglers that I got the documents I needed and managed to cross borders safely. Smugglers also provided accommodation, food and water, and they helped me receive money transfers.

I initially intended to get to Australia or some other developed country to realise these dreams and
settle permanently, but, because of asylum rules, that is now not to be. Although I felt compelled to do so at the time, I wish I had never left my home in Afghanistan. And after what I have been through, I would not encourage others there to migrate.

I am not sure what my final destination will be, but wherever it is, when I get there I will apply for
asylum. I hope to find a job within a few months. If my asylum claim is rejected, I will find some way to stay there regardless.


[1]‘Views from the ground’ presents six stories from migrants and refugees on the move, drawn directly from their responses to the 4Mi survey. As the surveys consist almost entirely of multiple-choice questions, these narratives, while presented in the first person, are not verbatim quotations, but they do faithfully reflect respondents’ answers and the geopolitical context of their journeys. 4Mi does not record names or other personally identifiable information and so all names are aliases.