Scores of Afghan migrants recently deported from Iran and Turkey have spoken out about their ordeal and called on parents to stop sending their children illegally to Europe.
Recounting nightmare journeys, a number of young Afghans said they experienced extreme hardships along the way and some said they nearly lost their lives in their quest to reach Europe.
As Europe continues to face an unprecedented migrant crisis, Iranian police are arresting illegal Afghan migrants crossing their country and sending them back to Afghanistan.
A group of 20 Afghans who were recently deported from Iran claim that migrants, including women and children, are falling victim along the way to the Taliban, people smugglers and the Iranian security forces.
According to the returnees, the refugees arrested by the Iranian Police are forced pay for their return to Afghanistan or face prison.
“We saw severe hardships during the journey as we were beaten by the Taliban and by thieves,” a young Afghan named Hashmat said.
“Women and children are kicked and some of our friends were injured and some others disappeared,” he said.
According to them, they regret having tried to leave the country and say they will not repeat their mistake again at any cost.
“Please. Please don’t go illegally. The police mistreat the women and children. Everyone’s lives are in danger,” another Afghan named Farooq said.
In addition, the migrants, who have spent weeks on the streets of Greece – camping out in parks and at train stations without any decent food or shelter – have also complained of mistreatment and discrimination against them in the country.
They say that Syrian refugees are given priority to enter European countries and Afghans are being ignored by the Greek government.
“When our children get sick and when we call the doctor, they say leave it … but when a Syrian child is sick, more than three doctors come for the checkup,” said an Afghan mother in Greece.
One of the main reasons Afghans are fleeing the country is because of insecurity and unemployment.
But in order to leave the country, migrants are forced to pay thousands of dollars to human traffickers and risk their lives and that of their families to travel overland across Iran and Turkey before boarding mostly overcrowded dinghies in Turkey for Greece. Most of them have until now eyed Germany as their final destination.
However Germany has imposed emergency controls at its borders after Hungary closed its borders due to a massive influx of migrants over the past few weeks.