After staying three years in Germany, and having experienced tough circumstances in his home country, an Iraqi refugee has made the decision to return. What's his reasoning behind the decision?
"There was a voice inside me calling for me to return to Iraq." This is what Mustafa al-Bayati told InfoMigrants when he was inside the Red Cross office in the city of Bonn, carrying a bundle of voluntary return assistance papers.
Al-Bayati comes from Iraq's Anbar Province and is 25 years old. The Anbar Province has suffered from a precarious security situation after it fell to the hands of the so-called "Islamic State" two years ago. This was when Moustafa was forced to leave, as was the case with thousands of other civilians in the region, he said.
During this period, when Mustafa was just 14 years old, he suffered an injury to his leg, along with other life-threatening injuries. "A bomb exploded and shrapnel hit my nose. As a result, I suffered paralysis and lost my memory temporarily," he said.
"A month after the incident, my memory returned. I was very afraid of my future in Iraq and decided to escape," he said.
Life in Germany isn't perfect
After a journey lasting 10 days with the help of two others fleeing the way, the Iraqi refugee was able to reach Germany, going on a route via Turkey. Mustafa was hoping to live in a safe country and receive treatment that could restore his health and added: "I arrived in Germany in peace and security and I can't deny that I benefited greatly from my treatment in the hospitals here."
Thanks to the treatment Mustafa received in Germany, his health improved tremendously. But during this same period where he was being treated, he started to become very depressed. He could not forget the three challenging years he lived in a refugee shelter, with his health condition requiring him to be transferred to housing more suitable for him.
The most challenging thing the young Iraqi man faced was the bureaucracy and the many letters he received. The Labor Office, for example, had obliged him to learn German. "How can I learn German when I am unable to do so because of my injury?" he said.
After three years of living in Germany as an asylum seeker, the young Iraqi could no longer stand life in Germany. He didn't receive refugee status to leave the asylum shelter, but only received a postponement of removal. This prompted him to think of returning back home. "My region is now secure and I miss my parents and my relatives," he said.
The return procedures back to his country were easier than Mustafa expected. "The officials did not even ask me why I was returning home."
Mustafa received aid to return home as well as a flight ticket granted to him by the German authorities. This time, his trip was taken across Jordan, rather than Turkey, and with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) rather than the help of human traffickers.
Mustafa al-Bayati arrived in Anbar two days later and promised to contact InfoMigrants upon his safe arrival. "I'm well and happy to be with my family," he said.