Khadija Nuri Goes to Europe

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A refugee from Afghanistan, who nine years ago arrived to Russia, got an opportunity to leave for Europe with her children. Russia did not want to receive this family – during all these years Khadija has not managed to obtain a legal status here.

Khadija Nuri  arrived to Russia nearly ten years ago, but has never managed to receive legal documents here. Our country considered the refugee from Afghanistan, who had undergone persecution at home,  unworthy of the official status of refugee.  Thanks to efforts of the staff of Civic Assistance Committee, and Elena Zaks, in particular, who was dealing with this family’s case, Khadija Nuri with her two sons finally received the permission for resettlement in one of European countries, which agreed to receive them as refugees.

“Now Khadija Nuri is leaving and we wish her happiness, ” – Svetlana Gannushkina, the Committee president was seeing her off. “Her children, who were born in Russia, are not needed here. Look at her wonderful handsome children; it is such a pity that they are leaving.”

Nuria Fatykhova, program coordinator of the branch of Heinrich Böll Foundation, Moscow – together with Anastasia Vinogradova, in 2013, made a short video about Khadija Nuri which was shown in the Sakharov Center for international debates “How refugees and political emigrants are being received in European countries and Russia.”

I am Khadija Nuri. I have already been to Russia for seven years, but I can’t obtain refugee status. My temporary residence permit has expired and any time I could be deported. I don’t feel like staying here and it is dangerous to return to Afghanistan. I would like to move to another country to support myself and my children.

I was born in Kabul. My family lived in pro-Western district of the city. I was never forced to wear hijab. I graduated from school and then entered the university where I met my future husband.

After the wedding we moved to a small village on the suburbs of Kabul. The life was very different there. It was impossible to go out without a hijab. Although, officially the Taliban do not run Afghanistan, they have a great influence all over the country. Armed men in masks could be seen everywhere.

In the village, I started to work for young girls’ school and my husband kept receiving warnings about me because my independence was unacceptable for the neighbors. Threatening started, there was an attempt to burn the school down. The circumstances led to the decision to move somewhere where women enjoyed more rights.  

It took us two months to collect enough money for departure. I had to sell my gold which was left after the wedding and our relatives helped us.

To go back to Kabul wasn’t possible. Anyway I left for Kabul, but people started visiting my parents’ and asked them about my whereabouts.

We moved to Mazar-i-Sharif, a city located not far from the border with Tadjik Termez and went to Tajikistan. From there we took a train to Moscow. We crossed the border illegally. A mediator was accompanying us from the very border to Moscow. We have paid him some money. That is what people normally do, nearly everyone.  

How was I prior to the departure and along the way? I certainly was crying a lot. I was seven- month pregnant and didn’t know what would happen to me tomorrow. There was only uncertainty to face in future.

At that time I didn’t realize that I became a refugee. In two months of living in Moscow I realized that at home it was better. This thought has haunted me. In Moscow I gave a birth to my son and then it became even clearer how difficult it was to live without any documents. More than once I was stopped by policemen and fined with large amounts.

I do not want anything for myself, only for my sons. For them, never to witness a war and to grow up happy in a peaceful country. Sometimes I dream of teaching again, and raising the   level of my skills – but I think, my dreams will never come true.

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