Final destination Zagreb

recorded by Stephanie Kirchner

Earth, how are you doing? (Issue I/2018)

Today, my three-year-old son is still scared of aeroplanes because they remind him of the air strikes on our hometown Idlib. We flew from Syria via Croatia to Germany. That's why they later deported us back to Zagreb. My eldest son had gone to Germany with his uncle before us. He lives in Leipzig. For nine months, my husband, the younger children and I have been waiting for a decision as to whether we will be granted asylum here in Croatia. It feels like there is still war in my life. Why is the EU doing this to us and sending us from country to country? Living like this, my children have no future. Life was better in Germany. The children had the opportunity to learn German from the start and they love the German language.

Wafaa Ladkani, 39, from Syria

I have already been all over Europe. I was in Austria for one and a half years and spent half a year in Germany. I speak very good German. I was not allowed to take a language course so I taught myself at home. I had many friends who helped me out. I think my application for asylum in Croatia will be rejected because there is no war in Lebanon. But people do not care about that, they just think about how they can get rid of you. For three and a half years, I have been constantly worrying about my future, but there is no real solution out there. I'm very sick of my situation. But I trust in God. I would like to get an education and find a job. Here you can't live on the ten euros that we get a month. It costs more to keep a dog.

Moussa Kalakesh, 30, from Lebanon

Back when I was living in Germany with my parents and three of my siblings, I went to a school in Hoyerswerda. My teacher, Mr. Mager, liked me and I had many friends there. But one night at three o'clock there was a loud knocking on our door. It was a group of police officers who wanted to bring us back to Croatia. "Quick, quick," they said, you have five minutes to pack your things. Every night I pray that I can return to Germany. In Croatia, life is bad. Many people are sad here in the accommodation and some are mentally ill. The food is not very good and the heating we bought was taken away. Last week on the way to school, a woman threatened me with a beer bottle and told me to get out of Croatia. In Germany, nothing like that happened to me.

Rand Asfour, 13, from Syria

The Taliban in Pakistan extorted more than $ 20,000 from me. They said I was a "bad Muslim" because I worked as an electrician for the US Army. When I ran out of money, I had to flee to Austria. There I had a friend and a little daughter. Our child died aged just two and a half months. After that, I made the mistake of leaving Austria without permission and ended up in an Hungarian jail for refugees, where I was imprisoned for half a year. After I was released, I went through the forest for six days until I arrived in Croatia with my feet broken. The Hungarian police had dumped me somewhere and sent me in the wrong direction. I used to be a bodybuilder. Look at me now, I look like a sick man.

Lajan Majeed, 28, from Iraq

My husband, my son and I fled Iraq after our city was taken by ISIS. From Turkey we went in a small boat to Greece and then traveled through Macedonia, Cyprus, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Germany and on to Sweden. My son has almost forgotten his mother tongue after hearing so many languages en route. A low point was when we were detained for three months in a gated refugee camp in the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod. I will not forget that all my life. I hope that our asylum application will be granted here soon. My husband now has a job as a kitchen assistant at a French restaurant. I'm pregnant and conditions are not good in our accommodation, especially not for small babies.

Malik Imran Zahid, 36, from Pakistan

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