Ibrahim left Iraq with his wife and his two children at the beginning of summer 2015 because of the political situation in Iraq and because he wanted to explore other employment opportunities in order to improve his living conditions. After having crossed the sea, they arrived in Greece where they were first registered. Little did Ibrahim know that this way, in the framework of the Dublin Treaty, his asylum request would not be considered by the Belgian authorities, but would have to be reviewed by the Greek authorities.
One of the main reasons for which he and his family came to Belgium was the fact that he had relatives here who’d already started asylum procedures. After having understood that he could not continue legal avenues for residency in Belgium and considering the grueling trip his family endured to make it here, he decided to go back to Iraq. In total, the family stayed less than a year in Belgium.
In his counseling sessions with the IOM reintegration counsellors, it became clear very quickly what kind of reintegration assistance would be useful to Ibrahim, who is a professional electrician in automechanics who used to have his own business before closing it to migrate to Europe.
Upon his return, he reopened his workshop in a vibrant area in Baghdad. With the reintegration assistance he could benefit from, a part was spent to buy essential machines needed in his workshop to repair the cars. Due to the high demand in this sector, Ibrahim was even able to expand his business in quite a short time and open a second workshop.
“Restoring the good contacts with previous loyal customers was an essential step for me to re-open my business, so I worked really hard to provide the best repair and commercial services to my customers.” Ibrahim said.
“I am happy that I returned to my country and was able to re-establish my business and count on loyal customers and provide a stable and familiar place to live for my family. With what remained of the funds allocated for reintegration assistance, Ibrahim was able to buy new very much needed house furniture: “My children were crying when we sold their beds before making the trip to Europe, but now they are very excited about their new beds.”
Struggling with the economic and security situation in Baghdad, Bariq decided to leave his country and family with three minor children. He thought that abroad he could find a better future for him as well as for his family. “My family is everything to me and their happiness is a priority for me” Bariq affirmed.
The high unemployment rate combined with the tense security and political situations were enough reason for Bariq to leave and to try and start something new in Belgium. The reality however was not as wonderful as he had initially expected. The reception structure situation was not ideal and he did not like being dependent both on a social as well as economical level. In addition, he really missed his family so much. After staying in Belgium for only a year, IOM helped Bariq get back home.
According to Bariq himself, the return process went smooth and fast and he is happy to be back.
In order to reintegrate and get some grip on his life back in Baghdad, Bariq also received reintegration assistance. He invested the grant he received in a small shop, selling milk, food and drinks. Almost all of the amount he was entitled to was invested in products to sell in the mini-supermarket.
Bariq said that “despite the difficult economic situation in Baghdad, the shop generates enough income for me and my family to have a decent life”, and added that this income is even slightly higher than the average wage employees earn.
Back in Iraq, the family restarted their life and started to build on the network of friends and family again. Happy to see his children growing up right in front of him, he is very much enjoying spending time with them and with his friends.
Some days he does regret the amount of money he has spent to go to Europe. Even though the amount of reintegration assistance that was given to him was compared to what he had paid the smugglers, it was essential in rebuilding his life, starting again from scratch.