Hello, my name is Nasir …
“Hello my name is Nasir and I am 27 years old* and I come from Afghanistan,” says the young man, shyly at the camera, giggling nervously. We meet him in a small park in Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos. Usually you meet a lot of migrants here, but the curfew for refugees has been extended for the sixth time, while life has resumed to normality for the locals and incoming tourists. The bars and beaches are full and Corona has disappeared into the background, at least for those who have a European passport; everyone else lives in tents, locked up behind the walls and fences of Moria.
Corona has disappeared into the background, at least for those who have a European passport
Nasir moved to Iran with his family as a child and grew up there. Due to the difficult living conditions, his mother and two siblings left the country six years ago and they now live in Germany. He and two other sisters stayed behind, but almost three years ago, the situation became too dangerous for them and they decided to seek refuge in Europe. Their journey began in the smugglers’ cars, they had to change again and again and after a while, they lost their bearings. “When we got to the border, we had to walk for eight hours because the border line is guarded by the police.
At the border, he saw people being murdered right before his eyes
There were 20 other people with me. They were Afghans too.” All he had with him was a backpack, but the long road was harsh and they had to cross many mountains thus he had no choice but to let go of his remaining belongings leave his last belongings to make the rest of the way somewhat easier. At the border, he saw people being murdered right before his eyes. But he made it across the border and later reached the Turkish capital and then Izmir, the city by the sea, which all migrants cross on their way to Europe. “When we first tried to venture across the sea, the police picked us up. The second time we were stopped by the Turkish coast guard. We finally reached Lesbos on the third attempt. “That was 2.5 years ago” he says; since then Nasir has been in Greece. “I was so incredibly happy when I finally set foot on firm ground. Turkey was far away. A bus picked us up on the beach and brought us to the registration centre. But at the time, I had no idea what Europe would really mean.”
Moria is a bad place
The “centre” is Moria, Europe’s largest refugee camp and designed to accommodate 3,000 people at short notice. However, currently the camp hosts up to six times as many people and like Nasir, they are forced to stay there for months, often years without any hopes of moving on. “Moria is a bad place. People are deprived of their dreams and future. People deal with lots of stress and mounting pressure of life in Moria; this is why a lot of people have severe mental health problems. We only get €90 each month. We have to buy groceries, pay for the bus, everything.” Nasir has been living with French friends in the city for three months: “I was very lucky, one of the luckier ones.”
A scooter drives past and stops briefly. We ask him how he can handle all of these things. We are impressed by his perseverance and his optimism seems unbreakable: “I have visited three psychologists and learned to get up over and over again. I have to be strong, resilient, find a job and find a way to move on.” We ask him about his plans for the future and he tells us that he wants to improve his English. Before the curfew, he took English courses in a small school, but now it’s closed. However, Nasir won’t be stopped and continues to study alone. And when he has his papers, he wants to move to Hamburg to join the rest of his family. He hasn’t seen his mother in six years: “A long time” he says with tears in his eyes.
* Nasir doesn’t know his exact age because he never celebrated his birthday.