Rebuilding a Life from Scratch: Dler’s Journey from Iraq to Germany and Back Home

Human Wrongs Watch

Dler left Iraq in the summer of 2016, hoping to make a better living for himself and his family in Germany. Here is his account of the journey to Europe, and the decision to come back home.

Dler, standing in his bike repair shop in Dohuk, Iraq. © IOM 2018/Raber Aziz

7 September 2018 (IOM)* – “We wanted to go to Germany by any means necessary; I had heard that [they were] good to refugees. I had a car in Iraq and I owned a store for repairing bicycles and motorbikes; I sold everything to collect US$20,000.

During Ramadan in 2016, my wife, my brother and I went to Turkey by bus. From there we paid a smuggler to take us to Greece and Bulgaria.

From Bulgaria we walked for two and a half days to reach Germany, but we were caught by the Bulgarian police and put in jail for four days before being released. We walked through forests during the cold season. We paid a lot of money to the first smuggler, and spent a lot during the journey as well.

© IOM 2018/Raber Aziz

We eventually spent six months in a refugee camp in Frankfurt. I tried to find a job but my child, who was born in Germany, got sick several times and we were in hospitals often; it was a very stressful time for me. On top of that, my brother was moved to another camp seven hours away from us. That made us all very frustrated.

My mother had an accident here in Iraq, which forced me to come back. I contacted IOM to support my return and, about seven months after that, [the three of us] left Germany in 2017.

© IOM 2018/Raber Aziz

IOM helped my wife and I travel back to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and helped Dler re-open my bicycle and motorbike repair shop in Dohuk.

When I returned, I had to start from scratch because I had spent every cent [getting] to Germany and during the six-month stay; thanks to the shop I did not have to struggle a lot.

I work [in the shop] five days a week, and on the weekends I go to Erbil to buy parts and bicycles at wholesale prices, which are lower than prices here in Dohuk. I sell these in my store.

© IOM 2018/Raber Aziz

I have spare parts as well as accessories; young boys especially like horns and LED lights for their bicycles and motorbikes. I have daily customers and what I make here is enough to support my wife and two children. I can save some money too. If things go well I will expand the store and buy more spare parts and items.”


IOM’s assistance to Dler was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ) and the German Center for Job, Migration and Reintegration in Iraq (GMAC).

*This story was written by Raber Aziz, Media and Communications Officer at IOM Iraq. Source: IOM. Go to ORIGINAL

2018 Human Wrongs Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: