Al Jazeera English: Return to Iraq: Former translator chases safety in US

Return to Iraq: Former translator chases safety in US

He became a refugee when militants threatened his life for working as translator with US forces

Athens, Greece – Murad stared at the ceiling of his room. He had been living in a shipping container in the Skaramangas refugee camp near Athens for five months. He wanted to smoke a cigarette, but he wouldn’t smoke that day. “I made a vow to never smoke again until my family is reunited,” he says.

Olivia Kortas & Kasper Goethals

His father and mother, who are living in a Yazidi refugee camp in northern Iraq, would be shocked to see him now. He used to spend a lot of time outdoors and his skin was tanned. But, since his arrival in Greece, he has become pale and thin, his cheek bones cast small shadows over his sunken face. He has lost at least 10kg in six months. Despite being only 32, what is left of his hair has turned silvery grey. He hides it under a baseball cap.


Murad looking at the sea from his room in a shipping container in the Greek refugee camp Skaramangas. ©Johannes De Bruycker

“I fear that I will never get old enough to have grandchildren, and tell them about this miserable time in my life,” he says. “But if I do have children someday, I will honestly tell them: Europe was hell for me.”

One day in August his phone rang, giving him hope that his misery would soon be over. On the other end of the line was a representative from the International Organization of Migration (IOM). Calling from their Middle-East office in Jordan, they told him of the latest development in his case.

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