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28 April 2016

‘Valid Only for Exit’: One-Way Ticket to Norway
By Alfredo Zamudio

“I was at the local store early one morning in late 1973, when I saw an army car pull up to my house, carry a man into it and drive off. As it drove past me, I recognized that the man in the car was my father, my sole caregiver. However, as a child of 12, I could not fully comprehend what had just happened. I went back home, only to find that it had been turned upside down and my father was nowhere to be seen. I picked up my father’s shirt that was laying on the bed and smelled it and all of a sudden, my father’s absence sunk in. It was the saddest moment in my life.

Gathering my wits, I hitchhiked to the nearest city and stayed with some of my father’s friends. A month later, some of them were executed by the army. Everyone was terrified by the events that were unfolding in Chile. 

Realizing I was endangering my father’s friends by staying with them, I decided to leave. Thus began a new chapter in my life –surviving on the streets, sleeping in river beds, in dirt, covering myself with sand. I even woke up once to find rats around me, but I was beyond caring and continued sleeping.

Read on | Watch the video

"What IOM and Roberto Kozak did at the time, changed my life. Changed my father’s life, and the lives of thousands of people. By giving us the chance to start anew, Roberto Kozak also empowered me to create similar opportunities and moments of hope for other people."  – Alfredo Zamudio, Director of the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, Norway.

Roberto Kozak, then Chief of the IOM Mission in Chile, welcomes refugees returning to Chile in 1993 after the dictatorship. Photo: IOM 1993

The Man Who Saved 30,000 Political Prisoners

Forty years ago, Roberto Kozak, an official with IOM (or the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration [ICM] as it was known then), was instrumental in the release and relocation of more than 30,000 political prisoners from Chile.

Fast forward to January 2010, when Roberto and his son, Nikolai, had just arrived in front of Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights, which was being inaugurated that day. Suddenly, his father’s attention was placed firmly on this individual in the large crowd that had gathered for the ceremony. This individual was also looking directly at Roberto.

“I felt a very strong connection. They walked towards each other and embraced,” recalled Nikolai, then 20, “and the tears began to fall. I had never seen him like this.”

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Migration in the News

  • Anadolu Agency reported that nearly 50 migrants arrived in Turkey from Greece on Tuesday under the European Union (EU)-Turkey refugee deal, according to Turkish Immigration Department officials.

  • Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey’s ambassador to France Hakki Akil has called for more help from the international community to cope with the refugee situation in his country.

  • WHO reported that Members of the European Parliament and WHO experts met to discuss universal health coverage for refugees and migrants entering the EU.

  • Daily Sabah/Anadolu Agency reported European Commissioner Johannes Hahn’s visit to a refugee camp in southeast Turkey.

  • AFP reported that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that Turkey will only get visa-free travel to the bloc once it has met all the criteria agreed to stem the influx of migrants under the EU-Turkey deal.

  • AFP reported that Austria yesterday adopted one of Europe’s toughest asylum laws, which allows the government to declare a “state of emergency” if migrant numbers suddenly rise and reject most asylum-seekers directly at the border, including those from war-torn countries like Syria.

  • Fellowship for Reconciliation published a blog examining the plight of internally displaced people and refugees in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • Radio Tamazuj reported that 90,000 people who fled clashes between government and opposition forces in Wau, South Sudan are facing desperate food shortages.

  • The Cameroon Concord reported USAID has donated over 15,000 metric tons of food for people in Cameroon’s Far North Region displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Trending on the Internet

  • NYT reported that Germany now has a monumental task of integrating newly arrived migrants.

  • In this NPR article, Patrick Adams talked about the baby boom in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan with the birth of the 5,000th newborn registered there.

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