We are refugees because we were forced to flee, we are human beings with rights.

Kamila Geethi
Posted November 24, 2021 from Afghanistan

Every day passes with so many mixed feelings, mostly pain and anxiety. I spent my early life as a refugee in Pakistan, and now — after spending 9 years back in Afghanistan — I am again a refugee, having fled Kabul for Europe in August. I have been in the Netherlands, uprooted, for 34 days. 

Throughout my life, I have experienced many of the challenges refugees face when they try to make their home in a new land. Now, from my living quarters in this strange foreign land, I reflect on what must be done to support those of us who have been forced to flee.

As refugees, we do not experience the privileges citizens do: We do not have the ability to pursue educational opportunities; we do not have access to health care services; and yet, we must work doubly hard to achieve our basic rights. For us, these basic rights might as well just be lines in law articles and books: they are elusive. 

When I returned to Afghanistan at the age of 16 in 2013, after 15 years in Pakistan, it took me years to stand on my feet and start my life anew. Every day was a battle to be recognized in my own country as an Afghan national. I had fled my country, my home back then to save my life and remain safe. Upon returning, I realized that once you are a refugee, you are a refugee for life. You have no home, no identity, fewer protections, fewer freedoms, more problems. 

I made it through those struggles, only to find myself a refugee once again. After the peace deal between the Taliban and the United States, I again had to flee Afghanistan to save my life and the lives of my loved ones. On 23 August 2021, after the Taliban took control of Kabul, I was on a plane to Europe. First in Spain, now in the Netherlands.

How does it feel to lose everything — to come to Europe with just the old dusty clothes on your back? To arrive at the airport to find dozens of people waiting to greet you with the click of their cameras? Every Afghan dream of visiting and studying in Europe. They seek out visas 100 different ways — and few get them. But this dream destination is a nightmare when you are here as a refugee.

When I was working as a humanitarian aid worker and human rights activist in Afghanistan, I was appreciating Europeans promoting human rights and shouting out for most vulnerable people, especially women and girls. Everyday I spend in Europe I get to know that there are still people who actually have no sympathy for Afghan refugees, they don’t feel the pain we suffer. They think we have chosen to come to Europe as a refugee, because they protest against refugees. The relevant authorities have no answer to our questions when we are eager to know about our futures. Some women lost their babies in womb to reach here, some brought dead babies to the world, and some have no access to health care in the camps because they are refugees, they have no status. I am sorry that human rights, humanity, and justice are only empty words wandering in books.

We are suffering from anxiety and depression. I am in pain, and I am angry. Life feels unfair, the terms ‘social justice’ and ‘human rights’ are just empty words that cannot be achieved. As refugees, we need security — not only physically but emotionally, too. 

Governments and social services agencies must pay special attention to the safety and security of women refugees especially. In my experience, we are treated in the camps as we were in Afghanistan: Sharing your room with unknown men, sharing your privacy, your feelings, your pain has taken away the sleep of Afghan women in these camps. Standing in a row of hundreds of people to receive one time meal, not having access to sanitary products. These are difficult days but we are being transferred from one place to another place, every time getting worse than before. These situation gives shock to families. We don’t have little privacy and find ourselves crowded in rooms with strangers but also are in risk of getting infected with covid since the 4th wave of covid is at its peak in Europe.

Now, it is the end of the year, and the weather is harshly cold. We wait for governments to decide our fate, with little control over our own destinies.

To those who are responsible and those who can make a difference: My people are traumatized, and we need immediate psychosocial support. We need to eat three times a day, and we need privacy and safety. We are looking ahead to an uncertain future for our children. Our family members who remain in Afghanistan are dependent on us. We worry they will die because of hunger and sickness — what will happen to them? 

My people fight every day to live our lives normally despite the problems we are facing in our new realities. Refugees are courageous, but we need your help: 

I call upon everyone who can make a difference to do so. Share our stories, raise awareness of our lives and our struggles; we need support from each one of you. 

 

Comments 4

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Tamarack Verrall
Nov 24
Nov 24

Dear Kamila,
As relieved and happy as I am to read that you are safe and in Europe, I am taking these words to heart, will share your story so that others will understand and commit to pushing all of our governments to address the racism, ignorance and lack of generosity that you and so many face having been forced to flee.
These words I will carry and remember: "human rights, humanity, and justice are only empty words wandering in books"..."the terms ‘social justice’ and ‘human rights’ are just empty words that cannot be achieved"..."pay special attention to the safety and security of women refugees especially"...:We need to eat three times a day, and we need privacy and safety". I am grateful to World Pulse that you are here and that we can all remain in touch to create solutions. With your permission I will send this to Facebook and onward.
In sisterhood,
Tam

megsmueller
Nov 24
Nov 24

Hi Kamila
As I read your words, the events are playing out in my head. You have a painful journey and a painful story to tell and you are exhausted. The one thing that I can do is cry with you pray for a course of action and share your story. I appreciate your voice and your call to action. No human deserves this! For what it's worth Kamila, thank you for your courage and your love for your people.

Much love to you.

Grace Iliya
Nov 24
Nov 24

Dear Kamila,
Your story is so touching. Being away from home and loved ones, living far away and not knowing the next line of action can be so devastating. From your write up I know a lot of people are still depending on you even though you are in this together. I encourage you never to give up and keep pushing. It may seem bleak but I know someday things will be better. We join hands with you to share your story to the world and let you know we are always here.

Much Love to you

rebecca.tang
Nov 25
Nov 25

Thank you for sharing. I can feel your pain, sorrow and difficulties of being a refugee. Understand your life is difficult. At the same, this brings the general awareness of the human rights of refugees.
Be strong! There is always a better tomorrow.
May Almighty God bless you and all refugees in the world!