Desperate Iraqis Join Tide of Migrants Heading to Europe

Ahmed from Baghdad, Iraq arrived to the Greek island of Kos with his family in a rubber boat which he boarded in Bodrum, Turkey. (Photo: Christopher Jahn/IFRC)

He knows that hundreds of migrants — men, women and children — have died when their smuggler boats capsized, and he’s seen the heart-wrenching pictures of the drowned Syrian boy who washed ashore in Turkey last week. But he’s also seen TV footage of thousands of migrants making their way across Europe and being welcomed in certain quarters. After more than a decade of chaos and war in his homeland, it’s a gamble he’s willing to take.

“The situation in Iraq is getting worse every day,” said Mohammed, a 29-year-old father of two. “I’m fed up. I can’t continue living here and can’t feed my family. There’s nothing left in Iraq.”

He quit his two jobs, as a civil servant and a tea seller, and sold his belongings to buy a one-way ticket to Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, where he’ll cross into Turkey and join an unprecedented tide of migrants fleeing war and poverty across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. His wife and two children will stay behind, praying for his safety and hoping to be reunited with him somewhere more secure.

Mohammed says he’s driven to leave by a mixture of fear and poverty. A bomb blast tore through his left side and arm as he rode on a microbus in 2006, at the height of the country’s sectarian violence. He also struggles to make ends meet. Even with two jobs, his monthly income was just $575, of which $450 went to rent and electricity.

“I want to end up in a state where my rights are preserved and where I can find mercy for me and my family. No more, no less,” he said.  –Morning Journal

Ahmed, pictured above, is another migrant from Baghdad, Iraq who has accepted the high risk of a water crossing in order to find a better life. He and his family landed on the Greek island of Kos in a rubber boat which carried around 50 other migrants and refugees.

Human traffickers charge $1,000-$1,300 per person for a trip in these small, inflatable rubber boats.

Photo credit: Christopher Jahn/IFRC