Escape from Taliban ends in cold waters of the Aegean

Published 27.11.2015 22:08

The tragic story of a family from Afghanistan highlights the dilemma of migrants who are forced to either stay in their home countries and die or take potentially lethal journeys to Europe.

Teimur Shah Murshidy, his wife and their three children between the ages of 6 months and 12, had fled Afghanistan due to threats from the Taliban. They were on their way to Europe via Greece when the boat they boarded sank on Nov. 18, killing the entire family.

Their story would go unnoticed or they would be mentioned only in passing in countless news stories about migrants if it were not for Murshidy's background. Hailing from a prominent family, Murshidy, a doctor by profession, was working as a program officer for the World Food Programme (WFP) in northern Afghanistan. When he faced threats by the Taliban, Murshidy decided to leave the country for good and take shelter in Europe. They were kilometers away from Greece when they finally arrived on Turkey's Aegean coast to board a boat that would sink minutes after it departed. The bodies of Murshidy, his wife Rita, 6-month-old Sultan Sanjar, 9-year-old Masihullah and 12-year-old Ahmad Samim, were recovered from the sea hours after the accident, while their eldest son, 13-year-old Ahmad Tamim, along with Rita's sister Sureyya Frogh and Teimur's nephew Almas Durgai are still missing.

Ferhat Sucu, head of an Afghan nongovernmental organization based in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Murshidy was threatened by the Taliban. "They knew he could access military camps without being searched due to his work at the WFP. They called him one day and told him that they would plant a bomb in his car before he enters a military camp. They threatened to kill his wife and children if he did not accept. He left everything in Afghanistan and fled to Istanbul," Sucu said. He said the family decided to live in Istanbul but their relatives here convinced them to head to Europe. "We learned they paid 2,750 euros per person to smugglers. Smugglers pledged to take them to Greece by a schooner. They traveled to Bodrum and stayed there for two days. When they arrived in the area they met the smugglers, they forced them at gunpoint to board a rather smaller boat along with 15 others. Naturally, the boat sank due to overcrowding," Sucu said.

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