Afghan refugee artist’s tale of survival in Turkey

ANKARA (SW) – Ruhullah Hussaini is one of many well-educated young Afghans who have migrated for a better life and are now living far away from their homeland.

Husseini studied calligraphy among other subjects, and wanted to work and help rebuild his country. But he could not stay in Afghanistan to achieve his aspirations.

After spending his childhood in Iran with his family, he returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban to attend school and university. Rohullah Hussaini received his higher education at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Kabul University, and at the same time studied the art of calligraphy.

This Afghan refugee, who, like many others, had experienced the pain of being a migrant, never thought he would be forced to leave the country again.

Living in Turkey with his wife and two children, a son and a daughter, he told Salam Watandar about the ‘bitter days’ of his life. He said the deadly truck bombing in Kabul’s Shah Shahid area, where many people lost their lives, made his life miserable. Rohullah said that even before the incident in Shah Shahid, there were many explosions in Kabul on daily basis and people were scared of it and it was thought that there would be an explosion every hour.

Rohullah still remembers the midnight bombing in Shah Shahid, Kabul, which took place three years ago. 15 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in the incident. In addition to personal injuries, the incidents caused heavy financial losses to the people.

According to Rohullah, that horrific incident compelled him to migrate. He said that after the incident, extremist and terrorist groups called him to cooperate and when he refused the request, he received death threats that forced him to flee.

Husseini has obtained an international driver’s license in Turkey, while many refugees are also barred from working in Turkey, he has managed to obtain a work permit as well.

Rohullah is now involved in the design, decoration of homes, offices and leisure areas. In addition to his work, he has been able to put together an exhibition of his artistic work, which has attracted the attention of local officials including the director of refugee affairs, businessmen and the general public.

With the spread of the coronavirus, countries around the world were hit hard economically, including Turkey. The imposition of quarantine, unemployment, and ban on migrants made things further complicated for people like him.

The Turkish currency lira also fell against the dollar leading to more refugees being rejected in the country. He was also one of the rejected refugees. However, he called on the Turkish government to re-examine his case.

According to Turkish figures, more than 4 million refugees arrived from Syria last year alone. Afghans are the second biggest community of refugees in Turkey. Turkey has rejected the asylum applications of many Afghans over the past year, citing reasons that the asylum seekers have not provided convincing reasons.