December 6, 2021

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The dream of Europe is 12,500 working hours away

The dream of Europe is 12,500 working hours away

S├╝leyman stands inside a textile factory in Istanbul and folds clothes. Around him are piles of clothes. He is seriously looking at the camera. The photo was taken secretly by a friend so that his boss would not notice it. Those who work here are illegal in the country.

– I work in the factory at least five days a week, says Solomon, and show pictures. It shows that working days are 11 hours.

Suleiman at work in Istanbul. Photo: private

– They push us hard. We don’t get breaks. We are not even allowed to speak.

Hourly wage: seven to eight kroner

For this job, he was promised 1,800 NOK a month. This corresponds to seven to eight crowns per hour.

– But I haven’t received a salary yet. I don’t know if I’ll get it either. There are many illegal immigrants who have been deceived to get their wages. The 20-year-old explains that we have no rights here in Turkey.

Suleiman fled his hometown of Kabul shortly after the Taliban took power in mid-August.

– They are cruel. It’s them. Now they don’t let women out. Suleiman said they took them and beat them when Channel 2 first met him in early October.

Suleiman and Amir grabbed their legs and ran into the woods when the TV 2 team approached. We thought you were the police, they smiled lightly when they realized we were just journalists.  Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

Suleiman and Amir grabbed their legs and ran into the woods when the TV 2 team approached. We thought you were the police, they smiled lightly when they realized we were just journalists. Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

By that time, he and two of his comrades had just crossed the border from Iran into Turkey. They spent six weeks from Kabul, through Pakistan and through Iran.

You will save the sisters

They spoke of violent border guards, brutal smugglers and life-threatening mountain passes. The escape was so relentless that they saw young children dying along the way.

But Suleiman refused to give up, as he had a clear goal of escaping: to earn enough money to get the four sisters out of the Taliban regime.

The Taliban kidnapped other girls. They can take my sisters too. my sisters! Solomon said in despair, before quickly wiping away the tears that had pushed him forward.

Terrified of being caught

The three friends were promised a job in Istanbul. But they first had to get there from the eastern province of Van, without being caught by the police. It’s about 1,600 kilometers.

We have no idea how to deal with it, it was the last thing they said before they walked away along the road, while trying to hide as much as possible.

About two weeks later, a message appeared on the TV 2 team’s mobile phone.

Hello, I’m Suleiman. I came to Istanbul! , he was modest.

After another three weeks, the TV 2 announcer met him again in Istanbul. It tells of an arduous journey through Turkey.

– We had to go most of the way. It took 10 to 15 days. It was very difficult.

Suleiman walked in large parts of Turkey.  Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

Suleiman walked in large parts of Turkey. Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

He lost contact with Amir along the way. He doesn’t know where he is now.

– We broke up. We met many policemen and had to run from them. There were many who were taken, including my friends.

The dream is broken

Suleiman admits that life in Turkey has been difficult so far.

Even my clothes are borrowed, he says. For when he has not yet received a reward, he must live on the goodwill of others. So far, he has been allowed to live for free in a small apartment in which 13 other Afghans stick together.

Solomon goes out onto the balcony, bends down to avoid the hanging laundry to dry, and looks down at the street. He himself never goes out, only when he goes to and from work.

There is a lack of space in the apartment which is shared by 14 people.  Photo: private

There is a lack of space in the apartment which is shared by 14 people. Photo: private

– I’m in danger if you go out. He says firmly that the police can arrest me and send me to a camp and then across the border.

– All Afghans here are afraid of being expelled out of the country.

Solomon turns towards the apartment. He knows he has to start pushing himself soon or else he might lose the roof over his head. But he is also in debt after the escape.

– I had to borrow a lot to pay the human traffickers, he says with resignation.

one father

It is also necessary to send money back home to the family in Afghanistan. He explains that he is now the only breadwinner in the family. Suleiman’s brother has returned to Kabul, but like most others, he has not been paid since the Taliban seized power.

Poverty is increasing rapidly in Afghanistan.  These beggars at the street market in Makrorian, Kabul.  Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

Poverty is increasing rapidly in Afghanistan. These beggars at the street market in Makrorian, Kabul. Photo: Ole Enes Ebbesen / TV 2

The United Nations estimates that more than half of the Afghan population will be affected by famine this winter. He writes that nearly all of the population, 97 percent, may fall below the poverty line next year The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.

– I’m worried about the family. They have no money to buy anything. What will they eat?

But Solomon began to realize that he would not be able to send the money home, at least not immediately.

– If I get the salary I promised, it won’t be enough to cover my own expenses, he says.

It’s hard to tell sisters. Because the last time we met him, it was the sisters he was most afraid of:

Education and everything was stolen from them by the Taliban. They no longer dared to leave the house.

Sisters waiting for help

Therefore, the sisters beg him to move to the West in Europe, hoping that he will then be able to help them. Solomon inquired about prices from human traffickers to cross the country road to Greece or Bulgaria, or by boat to Greece or Italy.

– If you have to take the country road, it will cost 5-6000 euros. If you are going by sea, it will cost 9-10000 euros. In addition, you need 1000-2000 euros to cover other expenses.

Solomon shakes his head slightly. He may have done the calculations. His monthly salary is 180 euros at today’s exchange rate. Even the cheapest option of 6000 euros will cost him 33 salaries per month.

Suleiman, 20, is at work in Istanbul.  Photo: private

Suleiman, 20, is at work in Istanbul. Photo: private

The sea route costs 12500 working hours

The sea route will cost him at least 10,000 euros, we must believe the smugglers. That’s roughly 100,000 NOK. With his hourly wages being paid now, he has to work around 12,500 hours.

In contrast, the human lifespan in Norway is 1750-1950 hours, According to Statistics Norway.

But then he must have saved all the money he earned. The truth is that he won’t be able to save anything if he doesn’t get a better job. So when the sisters wonder when he’ll send help, they don’t get the answer they hoped for:

– When I don’t have money, how do I get to Europe? I don’t have money to send my family or go to Europe. I’m stuck here.

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