By Lauren Chalouhi
The last time Rizgar Hussein spoke to his daughter Hadia was a late Tuesday night
Hadia had called him from northern France, saying that she was about to board a boat with her mother, brother, and sister. She was excited at the hope of finally making it to the UK.
But since that day, Rizgar hasn’t heard anything from his family. The next day, Rizgar saw on the news that 27 people had died while trying to attempt to cross the UK.
Rizgar told BBC, “I’m waiting now for any news from anyone… I just want to know if they are alive or dead.” He is one of many that are trying to find out about their family members who have not been heard of since Tuesday as well.
So far, there has been only one confirmed victim, Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from Northern Iraq.
Kajal Hussein, Rizar’s wife, 45, and their children Hadia, Mobin, and Hesty, ages 22, 16, and the youngest being 7, all left from the Kurdistan Region with the expectation of making it to the UK.
Rizgar said he never wanted his family to leave for Europe, and he would lose his job as a policeman if he joined them in the trio, and the plan failed. His family was set on going to the UK to try to make a better life, Rizgar promised to join them if they made it.
Rizgar said, “They wanted to go, everybody wants to live a good life, to have a peaceful heart and mind. But here, ask anyone from seven to 80 years old – nobody feels good.” His family started their pursuit of a better life four months ago.
They first traveled to Turkey before being smuggled by land and sea to Italy, where they stayed in a camp for three weeks. The mother, daughters, and son, first traveled to Turkey, before being smuggled by sea all the way to Italy, where they stayed in a camp for 3 weeks. They then continued their journey to the north of France, where they stayed in another camp. Rizgar would always keep in contact and spoke to them many times a day.
After 3 unsuccessful attempts, they contacted smugglers that promised to get them to the UK.
The first time they got caught was by the French police while setting off, the second time their boat ran out of fuel and they had to return to shore and lastly the third time their boat’s motor broke, which made them have to go back to land by the police.
When they got on the boat before their attempts to go to the UK, Rizgar called to make sure everything was ok and told them to be careful. That was the last time he’s heard from her. After a while, he never got a phone call from Hadia, he called her 100 times but never got an answer.
He still hasn’t heard anything yet and spends his days chasing journalists in hopes of finding any information about his family. He is still hoping for good news.