April 2016

Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'

On Saturday, Baaz Muhammad Kakar left the coastal city of Mersin in Turkey and boarded a bus to Istanbul – another step in his long journey from home. He had eaten only a biscuit in the past 24 hours.

He caps that update to me with, “Unfortunately, I’m still alive.”

A 23-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, and an example of the collateral damage of America’s longest war, Kakar has been stuck in Turkey since March 20, waiting for human smugglers to get him to Greece. But things have recently tightened up in the Mediterranean route, with Greece even sending some asylum seekers back.

Kakar and I first met in Kabul in February, when he was planning to leave Afghanistan. He was a sports presenter at a local TV station. Ever watchful, the Taliban, who basically operates like the mob, put pressure on him to either join them in his hometown of Ghazni, their turf, or get a job of which they approved – nothing in the media or involving foreigners – and send money to them.

Hopeless, Kakar got a tourist visa to Iran, paid a smuggler, and walked nine hours through the mountainous northern border to reach Turkey.  read more →