Maryam's story


Maryam walked from Afghanistan to Turkey, was shipwrecked on her way to Italy, ended up in Leros in a camp behind barbed wire and yet in the end we managed to reunite her with her son in Germany.
Maryam and Her Son
Maryam and Her Son. Our Visual Policy
Maryam's Story is part of the campaign on The campaign is in German.    

Already 71 years old* Maryam fled Afghanistan on foot and walked all the way to Turkey to seek protection. In Turkey, she could not register her wish for asylum and not access the authorities. In any way, people from Afghanistan receive only temporary protection, which can be terminated at any time in Turkey. Pushbacks to Afghanistan happen on a regular basis.

Thus, Maryam decided to try the dangerous path across the Sea to the EU. Because of the appalling conditions in Greece, one route leads from Turkey directly to Italy. This one particularly dangerous, passing through island groups and shallow waters.

Maryam's unseaworthy boat was shipwrecked. Luckily, she survived but found herself between barbed wire and in the middle of nowhere in a camp where she was exposed to the blazing sun: Leros.

UNHCR informed us that a 71-year-old woman had arrived on Leros. Our colleagues traveled to Leros, reached the camp, which is located at the end of a headland, and met Maryam. She was sick, tired, confused - and her health was continuing to deteriorate. She was unable to leave the Closed Controlled Access Center, and there was no access to medical care.

Camp Leros at Night   Anonymous   2022
Camp Leros at Night Anonymous 2022. Our Visual Policy

However, we learned that Maryam has two sons in Germany. Germany is therefore responsible under the rules of the Common European Asylum System for granting Maryam protection. Though, the authorities did not know how to proceed at all. We made sure that all documents reached Germany in time and convinced the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees of its responsibility with legal arguments. In November, Maryam was picked up from Greece by her son and accompanied to Germany.

Maryam's son left us another message.

“When asked what having a lawyer meant for his case, he explained, “Having a lawyer was 100% necessary. I have been here in Germany for a long time. I have many friends, and I know for a fact without lawyers – without you – we couldn’t do this process ourselves. It was 100% necessary to have the guidance of a lawyer to understand the legal procedure. Thank you” Our Visual Policy

*Name and age have been changed. 

** As the former name can also be used as a male name, we changed it to Maryam to avoid confusion.