Nina and her family lived in Grozny, where they survived the first war without living their house. The second war was shorter. However, the end of the armed conflict did not bring the expected peace and security. The living rhythm was imposed by armed groups, which entered the houses of the local people in the night during purges, kidnapping people. On one such night, armed men entered Nina’s apartment and beat her and her husband up while one of their daughters was watching…
Their departure from Grozny was organized by a man who had some contacts at the transit states on the way to Belgium. The family chose this country due to good medical care, of which they had heard in Chechnya. Nina required an urgent surgery, and her daughter needed psychological consulting. The escape cost the family of seven about 11 thousand EUR, including the purchase of the passports. They got to Brest by train. Their journey was full of fear, uncertainty of what would happen to them. It was still difficult for them to accept the fact that they were leaving their homeland.
When describing the route, Nina cannot concentrate, she gets back to the beginning of her story. I can conclude that before passing the Belarusian and Polish border, she spent several nights with their family in an apartment provided by the man transporting them. They crossed the eastern Polish border, receiving seals in their passports. In Poland, they were taken over by another person organizing transport. They spent the subsequent hours in a truck loaded with furniture, which crossed the German border without any problems and took them to Belgium. They slept on a hard floor, the temperature was low. Then they got to Brussels by train and there they went to the Office for Foreigners. Then they waited for six months for their refugee status applications to be considered. At the same time, others were taken to various reception centers, while they kept waiting. Nina managed to get the surgery. Her daughter did not get medical care. The family received a negative decision regarding refugee status. The reason was the seal of the Polish border service which obliged the Polish state to accept the refugees.
The whole family was horrified. They were threatened by deportation to Poland. Once again, they did not know what would happen to them, their fate was in the hands of officials. They spent several months at a deportation camp. The date of their departure was shifted several times due to the bad health condition of their daughter. So, they were sitting idly at the camp, looking at the swear words written on the walls.
Their journey from Grozny to Belgium took 12 days, and deportation to Poland – 2 hours…
In Poland, they managed to acclimatize after some time. Their daughter was provided with psychological counseling. Nina does her best to remain active, attending hairdressing and cooking courses. Her daughters go to school. Nevertheless, when she recalls memories from a year ago, had she been aware of their experiences, fear, the conditions encountered by her family during the journey, she would have not decided to leave Chechnya. During the journey, their health suffered more than in Chechnya. However, it was in Chechnya that they lost their sense of security, which they have not been able to regain fully even in Poland.
Interviewer: Aleksandra Kowalczuk/2008