They paid 8 000 dollars to get here
On April 14, Musljum, 36, and Mefaze, 28, together with their two children Arso, 9, and Kamuran, 8, hurriedly left their little house in the city of Baku in Azerbaijan.
Eight days later, at 6 o´clock in the morning, they were dropped at the bus station in Upplands Väsby after having spent the last two days of their long journey confined in a cold-storage truck for fruit. The driver waved his arm to point out the direction they should go to get to the Carlslund refugee transit station.
”The birds were singing and the sun was shining when we got out of the trailer. But we were shivering cold after two days and two nights in the cold-storage compartment. We had not eaten for two days,” says Mefaze.
On their second day in Sweden they were able to seek asylum. The family was photographed, their prints were taken, they were made to recount why they had fled and how the journey was arranged, and they received information about the process of asylum in Sweden, and what their rights and obligations are.
After four days here, the young couple from Azerbaijan have recovered somewhat after the long journey in the truck. They tell us that they think the new country is just as beautiful as the one they’ve just left.
Musljum and Mefaze payed 8 000 dollars to be able to hide in the cold-storage trailer full of fruit. The destination was set out somewhere in Europe, but they did not know where.
”We guessed Germany,” says Musljum.
Mefaze wants to add something about the journey, and she begins to cry.
”We were afraid all the time. We would rather have left the children at home and brought them over here later. But we didn’t dare to leave without them.”
The family from Baku had no other choice but to leave in a rush. Mefaze cries all the time as the interpreter translates word for word:
”They... killed... my mother... two days... before... we fled.”
Musljum interposes that he has been imprisoned several times for political activism and that he loves his country and never would have fled if he hadn’t been forced to.
”I had a good and well paid job as an electronics engineer. The children were doing well in school. We lived in a house with four rooms.”
Here in Sweden they share a room where there is barely room for four beds and the three bags that contain all their belongings.
”We believe that the Swedish people will help us find a future here,” Musljum says solemnly.
Only ten percent of all refugees are able to support themselves after three years in Sweden. (Refering to a study from the Swedish Immigration athoroties, Migrationsverket.)
”We will find jobs. We will look actively for employment.”
Two weeks after arriving in Sweden, Musljum and his family are transferred to a three-storied house on Sandviksvägen in Karlskoga. They share the four rooms and kitchen with four Ukrainians who are also seeking asylum. ”Everything has been fine,” says Musljum. ”But the housing situation is difficult and is making my wife nervous. Thanks to a doctor’s certificate, we have now been promised an apartment of our own, a two-room apartment in Degerfors.”
On June 7 the family moved into the new apartment in Degerfors.
Each month, they receive 5 820 Swedish crowns (approximately 580 dollars). This amount is supposed to cover everything except housing which is free. Arso and Kamuran have lunch free of charge at school. They have been placed in a special class for non-Swedish speaking pupils. Musljum and Mefaze are still waiting to have their first Swedish lessons.
Fact: The classes, ”Swedish for immigrants” (Sfi) are only allowed for those who have received a permanent residence.
After the family's first interview in Solna, they haven’t had any contact with their case worker at the Immigration Authority. They have been promised a second interview, but Musljum sounds somewhat dejected when he relates what is being said among other people seeking asylum. There is no limit to how long it can take, six months, maybe a year...
And then what? A long period of waiting for an answer to the request for a residence permit. And then more months and years of nervous waiting for those who appeal against a rejection.
”The uncertainty is trying,” he says. ”Others from Azerbaijan have received a negative answer. But when I think of what we have had to go through, I think that our experiences are so terrifying that Sweden simply cannot send us back to Baku.”
Is it worth all this waiting? Is it worth the anxiety, years and years of not knowing? So many seem to think so, so many seem to think they have no other choice.
Maria Trägårdh, Bo Lidén