IOM Client Stories

Afghan Family: We Want to Have a Place That We Can Finally Call Home

Fereshteh was born in 1971 in Afghanistan, but war drove her out of her home and she fled to Iran. Here she spent more than half of her life. She was accompanied by her future husband when escaping to Iran, later their close relatives joined them in the country. They spent the first few months in a refugee camp, later they rented a small apartment. But life in Iran was difficult. Neither Fereshteh nor her husband managed to obtain legal documents for stay or work.

Fereshteh’s husband earned some little money, but he could only find temporary illegal work. After his death Fereshteh had to take care of the entire family and find a job to earn a living. Despite facing many problems in Iran, Fereshteh found the valuable safety there. Her children were born and grew up in Iran; two of them are already adults. Together with them Fereshteh had been accepted in the resettlement programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for a long period of seven years. Finally the time came and Fereshteh and her children were included in a humanitarian transfer and transported to Slovakia. Here they stayed for a period of six months after which they were permanently resettled to the United States of America.

IOM - Resettlement of Refugees - Afghan Family: We Want to Have a Place That We Can Finally Call Home

The photo is for illustrative purposes only, IOM Slovakia

Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) in Humenne became a temporary shelter for them. Country in the middle of Europe, not known to them until then, was a pleasant surprise. “I was surprised by Slovakia as a country and delighted by the people who took care of us in Humenne. It is hard to leave now when we got used to Slovakia.“ Fereshteh’s words are honest, with tears in her eyes she would like to thank everyone who helped her family.

Her eldest daughter Samira joins the conversation: “We look forward to a new life – free and independent. We want to have a place that we can finally call home and live a peaceful life.“ However, you can sense some anxiety in her voice. The 19-year-old Samira is worried about the language barrier, but she is determined to study art and to paint. They are enthusiastic about their life in the USA, but also a bit worried about everyday things that we might consider routine.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) is responsible for the transport of refugees from the refugee camp to the Slovak Republic and from the Slovak Republic to the final country of resettlement. IOM further provides services related to medical examinations and courses of cultural orientation, which prepare refugees for a new life in the country of their resettlement.

(Names were changed for protection reasons.)

The activities of IOM in this project are financed by the US Government through its USRAP Program – United States Refugee Admissions Program or by similar programs of other resettlement countries.