Samia first left Algeria with her two small children to join her husband in Turkey. Together, they then took the Balkan route with the goal of reaching France, where Samia's sister lives. The family is now stuck in northern Serbia, where they are waiting to cross the Hungarian border.
Samia* arrived in Horgos a week ago**. While waiting to cross the Hungarian border, she spends her days in a makeshift camp, where about a hundred people like her are staying. Most sleep in tents, but a few others, like Samia, have been able to find refuge in the few small abandoned houses in this village located in the open field. Away from the other migrants, the majority of whom are Moroccans, the 34-year-old Algerian lives in a small, narrow room with her husband and two children: Zayneb, 8, and Wassim, a year and a half.
"I left Algiers with the two little ones because I wanted to join my husband, who has been living in Turkey for four years, so that we could go to France together. Our goal is to go to Nice because my sister lives there. The journey to get here was very difficult. First, we wanted to go through Greece: we tried five times, without success. So then we decided to go to Bulgaria. That was very complicated too. I counted, we made 15 attempts before we succeeded. We then crossed Bulgaria and reached the Serbian border. And here we are.
The next step is Hungary, but we haven't tried crossing the border yet. I'm hoping to see fewer police officers. It looks really hard to get to the other side. When I see people from the camp coming back from the border, it scares me a lot.
Illegal pushbacks are almost systematic at the Hungarian border. "[Police] kicked me and I ended up falling. There is one blow that I remember in particular because I felt the bone in my leg break," said Khaled, a Syrian who tried to reach Hungary three years ago, to InfoMigrants. Since last spring, the violence at the border has "increased" and become "more intense", according to Border Violence Monitoring Network in a recent press release.
We aren't ready to attempt the passage yet, we need to rest a little first. The children are tired and I am too. An association here gave me a knee brace, but my knee still hurts since I twisted it in Bulgaria.
Also, we're dirty and Zayneb has spots all over his head ... Look at us! [Samia bites her lower lip but can't hold back her tears, editor's note].
The sea: 'It's too dangerous'
We would like to leave this place and go to the hotel, but we cannot afford it. Even a taxi ride to the center of the village is €30, sometimes 50. So too bad, we are going to stay put. Wassim doesn't seem too upset so far. During the day, he plays outside and he acts like the little boy he is. Zayneb is sadder. She stays with me in this room a lot.
It is very difficult to be here, but I will not go back to Algeria. There, we had nothing, even though my husband has a diploma. We lived in dilapidated housing and we did not have a dignified life. Of course, to leave the country, there is the option of crossing the sea. It would have taken less time to get to Europe but I gave up on the idea. It's too dangerous.
Every year, thousands of people set sail from the Algerian coast to reach Spain. The crossing, on small motorboats, is very dangerous and shipwrecks are frequent. A year ago, Ryad, an Algerian contacted by InfoMigrants, saw his brother disappear at sea. Since then, he has been looking for him "24 hours a day". "I think about what could have happened all the time and especially at night" he told us last September.
I'm doing all of this to provide a better life for my family. For Zayneb and Wassim, but also for my two other children who stayed in Algeria. I wasn't able to bring them with me."
*All the names have been modified
**InfoMigrants met Samia in mid-October. The orginial article in French was published on October 31.