Illustration: Paul Aitchison
Illustration: Paul Aitchison

“The boat is full”

The Making of a Refugee: Part 5 – A series on Afghans in Germany

Masoud* had sent me Ali's* number and I had reached out to him over WhatsApp, the app that most of my Southasian friends use to stay in touch. One of the first notes he sent me was a document that began: "To Whom It May Concern." It described in detail his work in Kabul as a filmmaker and how he was forced to leave in 2014, after receiving threats from the Taliban.

Since his English wasn't strong (he said), we discussed our plans to meet through Masoud. It was decided I would go to meet him and his family in the small town they had been sent to by the authorities, on the border between Austria and Germany. Then he changed his mind and asked me to meet him in Frankfurt. And then suggested that he come to Hamburg. We were working out a date for this when Masoud told me Ali's request for asylum in Germany had been deemed inadequate. He and his family had been asked to return to Serbia, where they had already spent two difficult years in a camp.

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Himal Southasian