Iraqi refugees find their way to Colombia

CCTV News

Iraqi refugees find their way to Colombia2

According to the International Organization for Migration, the greatest number of refugees in 2015 came from Iraq.

Some refugees tried to migrate to Europe and other developed nations, others are making their way to South America.

CCTV America’s Michelle Begue has the story from Bogotá.

Iraqi refugees find their way to Colombia

Iraqi refugees find their way to Colombia

In a post-conflict scenario, Colombia could become a very attractive place for people who need international protection. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue has the story from Bogotá.

Riyam Hadi is a 24-year-old Iraqi living in Bogotá. She fled to Colombia in November 2015 with her two siblings and parents after they were persecuted by the militant group ISIL.

The Hadi family was one of the nearly 3.2 million Iraqis that, according to the International Organization for Migration, fled their homes in 2015.

The Hadi family claims that they, along with other refugees, paid more than half a million dollars to a smuggler so they could reach the United States.

For migrants who want to reach Europe, traveling across the Mediterranean Sea in overcrowded boats operated by smugglers can be dangerous. The IOM said more than 10 refugees die each day trying to make the journey.

The Hadi family survived the long trip across the Atlantic. When they reached land, they were told they had arrived in the U.S. However, they were in fact left in Colombia — victims of a smuggling scam.

Senior Security Associate at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Diana Ceron said that the majority of refugees are lied to when they get to Colombia.

The UN Refugee Agency said that in 2015, only 19 people from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan formally requested asylum in Colombia. But as the country comes close to ending its own 50-year-long civil war, this may change.

“In a post-conflict scenario, Colombia could become a very attractive place for people who need international protection,” Ceron said.

The Hadi family said although they have been granted refugee status in Colombia, the language barrier has made it hard to work. They make $14 per week at a salon.

The Hadis have not given up their dream to reach U.S., but as they approach the one year anniversary since leaving Iraq, any dream of ever returning home seems almost impossible.