‘I never heard from them again’: An Afghan family’s doomed journey

The Observer reports: n the early morning on 8 February, before setting off from the Turkish coast with his family, Firooz Mozafari was on the phone to his brother Farid in Kabul. They had spoken every day since Firooz left Afghanistan 48 days earlier, and Farid asked him to keep his phone on during this last stretch of the journey to Europe.

“I can’t, I’m running out of battery,” Firooz said, hung up, and climbed aboard a small speedboat with 11 relatives, including his wife and two children.

After two hours without word from his brother, Farid began to worry. The trip across the Aegean should take 40 minutes. A friend reassured him nothing was wrong. “It takes a couple of hours to get through immigration,” Farid remembered him saying. So he waited.

But later he received the terrible news: Firooz’s boat had sunk 15 minutes after leaving Izmir, with 24 people on board.

As a journalist Firooz had known the hazards of the journey but, weighing his options, he thought it worth spending his savings on plane tickets to Iran and smuggler fees to escape the never-ending war in his homeland.

Afghans make up a large proportion of the migrants and refugees who are arriving in Europe. Last year more than 210,000 Afghans arrived, 21% of the total, according to the UN. It is a staggering number, fully 15 years after the Taliban were driven out of Kabul. During that time, Afghanistan has received aid greater in value than the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after the second world war. [Continue reading…]

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