I would like to briefly tell you my story and that of my family.

First things first: My son Ali and my wife Sima are safe, after seven years of separation we have finally been together again since April this year.

I grew up in a village in the Jaghori district of Afghanistan. We had a small farm where I worked with my parents for a long time. When the security situation in our province became increasingly sensitive, I fled to Iran for the first time in 2003. I worked there in a plastics factory and in a quarry. Without papers, 12 hours a day and badly paid. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to obtain working papers and a secure residence status in Iran. We Afghans are exposed to constant discrimination there and are threatened with deportation at any time. But also in Afghanistan our ethnic group of the Hazara was and is exposed to ethnic and religious persecution. Our village has been attacked several times in the past few years.

In 2007 I came to Austria after a month-long escape via Turkey and Greece, but was immediately taken into detention and brought back to Greece via a Dublin procedure. After that, I was in Greece for five years, in two of them I was homeless. My application for international protection was never answered. It was a very difficult time for me, in which I lost all hope and life energy at times. Individuals as well as church organizations helped me to get through this difficult time.

I returned to Afghanistan in 2012, there was no prospect of another legal stay in Greece and I had the deceptive hope that the situation would become a little safer for us in Afghanistan. In April 2012 I married Sima and in May 2013 our son Ali was born. In 2014, during Ramadan, I got into a life-threatening conflict with radical groups and had to flee in a hurry. I didn't have time to prepare for the escape, my wife and young son had to stay behind; The acute danger was too great and an unprepared escape too dangerous for the two of them. It was terrible to have to leave them behind, and it took me seven long years to get my family to safety.

In Iran, I had worked illegally for over a year to earn money to continue to flee. My only goal was: security for myself and my family, for that I often had to risk my life. The area between Iran and Turkey is particularly dangerous: day-long hikes over mountains, at the border refugees are sometimes shot at. For example, I was only able to cross one of the many borders wedged in the chassis of a truck, for 36 hours without food or liquid intake.

At the end of 2015 I applied for international protection in Austria. To this day I do not understand why I was only granted asylum in 2020 after several complaints. Nothing has changed about my reasons for asylum. During the whole time my family in Afghanistan was repeatedly exposed to attacks by radical groups and often in acute danger. They had to go into hiding and so my son was never able to go to school.

Now I am happy and grateful that we are finally together. Ali is attending school for the first time and my wife is attending a German course. I finally got a work permit myself and already found a job. We still live in a tiny one-room flat, but I hope to find an apprenticeship as a cook soon and, after completing my apprenticeship, earn enough money to move to a slightly larger apartment. Sima wants to learn German as quickly as possible in order to find a job and earn money on her own. Ali's big dream is to become a police officer one day, they are strong in his eyes and can protect the family - something they never could in Afghanistan.

Hamid, Vienna 2021