There are and has been heavy and extensive reporting from media on the refugee crisis that is going on in the Middle East and Europe. Yet, we very rarely get to meet the persons caught in the very same crisis. Behind each report, headline and statistics there is a real human being who is someones family, friend, neighbor or work colleague. People fleeing from war, threats and persecution and have collected horrendous experiences along the way. There are millions of stories remain to be told by these people. These are a very small fraction of some of those stories of the journey, the life they left behind and their hopes and dreams for the future.
From Basra, Iraq. Munketh says he fled the country since the regime-loyal militia wants him dead.
– I worked as a border police in northern Iraq and condemned the militia for their actions, then they tried to kill me. Five of my friends have been killed by them. You can no longer trust anyone in Iraq anymore.
Munketh was staying at the same lodging as the three-year Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi and his father in Turkish Bodrum. He had initially planned to go on the same boat as them, but decided to take another boat the day after.
– Although, the boat sank and we had to swim back to the Turkish coast. Eight people drowned. On the third day, I finally managed to cross the sea by a another boat that took me to Greece. It was a tiny small boat overloaded with 85 men, women and children.
Munketh will seek asylum in Sweden and wish to bring his family as soon as possible.
– I only want peace and security.
From Baghdad, Iraq. Iamiags husband was a nightclub owner in Baghdad and was threatened to death by the Islamic State.
– IS told us to shut down the nightclub, but we refused. Then they threatened us to kill us.
Initially, the family first tried to hide and moved around between different locations in Baghdad. However, the IS grupps managed once again find them.
– The situation became so serious that we were forced to flee the country.
Iamiag fled with her family from Turkey to Greece on sea in a small raft.
– We were terrified. It was a very simple raft meant only for 40 people. We were 65 people on it.
From Kabul, Afghanistan. Jovid have made it to Stockholm all alone right after his father was killed in the war. The trip, which took two and a half months, he describes as a nightmare.
– I have paid smugglers, walked by foot, travled by car and train. At night, I have slept in and around forests without any shelter.
His mother and siblings are still left in Kabul. Jovid explains that they are very poor and that the money was only enough for his journey.
– It was a very difficult and tragic decision to leave my family. There's no future in Afghanistan. I hope to build a good future for me here in Sweden.
From Baghdad, Iraq. l Saad-Abd worked as a car salesman in Baghdad and, like many others, has taken fled the country crossing Europe. He says he fled from the conflict prevailing in Iraq and that his family had been threatened several times.
– There are attacks going on everywhere and everyday in Baghdad. The situation is completely catastrophic. You can not live there.
Now, he wishes to get asylum in a safe country as soon as possible in order to bring get the rest of his family.
Madeed has worked as a film and theater director in Baghdad. He says that neither the regime or the Islamic state tolerate any form of artistic expression.
– Two of my friends have been murdered by the regime-loyal militia. I do not even know why. No one live safely in Baghdad anymore. You can get in trouble, or killed, just by being friends with the wrong person.
Madeed took the boat cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece,
– The boat right behind ours was totally over full and sank. I jumped in and saved my friend who could not swim. Seven other people jumped in as well and helped out to get everybody up on our boat.
At the Hungarian border, the grupp he was traveling with saw the police patrols and hid therefore among the crops on a field. The morning after they managed to take a taxi to Budapest.
Hummam, 35 and Haiderh, 15
Hummam and his son Haiderh fled with the rest of his family from Mosul on June 10th 2014.
– The Islamic state came and seized our home, money and belongings. They threatened to kill us. We tried to flee across the northern border, but could not manage to do so. In between, we lived in Baghdad for a year before we left..
On the road from Iraq's northern border to Baghdad, the parents asked the children to close their eyes and not look out the car window as the streets were full of dead bodies.
– I have worked as a teacher and an artist. Because of this, I have had my life threatened.
At the Hungarian borders, Hummam and his son Haiderh were detained for four days. They were also attacked with tear gas by the Hungarian police.
– I was about to lose it completely. I thought I was gonna die, says 15 year old Haiderh.
Kamal worked in Baghdad as a salesman in a clothing store. He says that he could not sleep at night due to the fear of explosions outside from time to time. Two of his friends in Baghdad have been killed.
– I had met both of my friends the night before. The next day they were dead. It's so sad and terrible, Kamal arrived to Sweden after a very difficult journey crossing though sea and Europe.
– I've had some good food here since i arrived and slept in comfortable beds at the refugee accommodation. For the first time in many years, I have been able to have a good night sleep. It's so wonderful. When we arrived in Stockholm, there were people on the train platform welcoming us and applauding. I love Sweden already. I would love to stay here.
Adnan is from Adleb in Syria and has been on the road for 29 days. He left after his house got burned down to the ground due to the war.
– President Assad wants me to go out and fight in the war, but I don't want to kill my own people. I have six children. I want to find a safe country for my family.
He took a simple inflatable boat from Turkey to Greece along with many others.
– The waves were very high out on the sea and the small rubber boat was only ment to cary 20 people. We were totally 45 persons on it. It was very dangerous and terrifying.
Adnan, who used to worked as a language teacher, wants to continue his travel on to Norway.
– Sweden is very good. People seem to love us here, and we refugees love you too. But I have friends in Oslo, thats why I want to go there.
From Baghdad, Iraq. Ahmed has been on the road for 25 days. He says he took the same route as all the other refugees through Europe. He has walked and traveled by car through Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Germany. Ahmed has fled from Baghdad due to the terrorist attacks that plague the city.
– Bombs are going of all the time, you can not live there. There is no future in Iraq.
Ahmed says that he has walked a longer distance through Europe than the distance he traveled by car.
– It's been very tough. We've been living along the roadsides and sleeping in the rain.
l Abd-Almutalb is from Baghdad, Iraq. He has been on the road for 63 days.
– IS came to our area and said we had to move from our homes. If we wouldn't move, we would had been killed. If they don't kill you, they will kill any relatives to you.
Like many others, he traveld from Turkey to Greece by a small boat. Due to the high waves, the boat sank near the Greek coast. The Coast Guard was fortunately near by and managed to rescue and pull all the passengers out of the water.
– At the beginning, I was not that scared.
In Hungary, he was interned in a refugee camp without any food and water for four days. Now, Abd-Almutalb wishes to continue his journey on to Finland.
Hassan has worked as a judge in court in Baghdad. He was, along with half the workforce, redundant when the new government took hold of the office.
– A friend and colleague of mine was split in half by IS. They placed the body parts in different cities to make a mark.
Hassan explains also that the journey through Europe is very difficult. this is also partly why women and children are left at home. And that most of the family has stayed in Germany.
– At the Macedonian border, we were detained for two days. It was raining and got very cold. The police attacked us with batons and they made no distinction between men, women and children.
Mamoan is from Idlib, Syria. He have fled as a result of the war and the bombs that hit the civilian population in Syria. Three of his friends were killed when bombs struck their houses.
– In Syria, you are forced to choose sides, the regime or the opposition. But I don't want to chose. All I want is a secure country for my family to live in.
Mamoan says that they lived in a house with a basemen where they sheltered as soon as an aircraft was spotted in the sky.
– Although, sometimes there is no time to seek shelter. Its often more dangerous during the night when sleeping. I have tried to not go to sleep some nights on order to keep an eye on the sky.
His family still remain in a refugee camp in the Turkish border. Mamoan says he wants to get the rest of the family as soon as possible so that children can go to school. Mamoan is concerned of the forced registration made in Hungary.
– I didn't want to get registered there, but the violent police gave up on me with batons. They forced me down on the ground, beat me and took my passport fingerprints.