Inside the Lives of Asylum Seekers in Germany

Recruited to Fight

MOHAMMED, 22, is from Syria.

After being recruited to fight in Syria, Mohammed left with the hope of reaching France. Mohammed asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons. He has been in Germany since July 2015.

Click to see 360 video

When the Syrian civil war started, Mohammed was studying law as a university student. After he graduated, the army recruited him to fight and he made a quick decision to flee. He didn’t even bring a jacket with him when he left in July 2015.

Mohammed says he spent around 3,000 euros getting to Germany. He took a boat from Turkey to Greece, departing at night. After just an hour at sea, he says, someone from the Turkish police came and threatened to send the boat back.

Mohammed had bought a personal flotation device before he left Turkey. He jumped from the boat and spent three hours in the sea before arriving alone on a beach somewhere in Greece. He spent two hours walking before finding refuge in an abandoned church. He was eventually sent to a refugee camp. From there, he traveled to Athens and then continued along the Balkan route to Germany. He says he still thinks about what happened to the other passengers in his boat.

Mohammed used his mobile phone to help him navigate the way, crossing borders at night. He traveled from Macedonia to Serbia and Serbia to Hungary, where he says he was forced to stay for fifteen days in a prison.

He arrived to Germany in late summer and spent the first few days not knowing what to do or where to go. He was one of the many people stuck in line at LaGeso, the German social services department in Berlin. According to Mohammed, The German immigration department told him they sent him his paperwork on October 10, 2015. However, he says he didn’t receive anything until March 15, 2016.