Story of Avin

Poland (Kurdistan)

On Friday, December 3, 2021, Avin, a 38-year-old Kurdish woman, passed away in a Polish hospital. The cause of death, severe hypothermia, dehydration, a temperature of -7C, and all while twenty-four weeks pregnant.


Avin, her husband, and their five children were crossing into Poland from Belarus where they spent a week in the woodlands which stretch between the two countries.


Hoping to create a safe life for their family, Avin and her husband fled Iraq to Europe. For weeks they were traveling through the forest between Belarus and Poland, hiding from the authorities in fear that they will be sent back. It was after days of hiking in harsh conditions, with no water and little food, did Avin start to fall ill. The family was found in the forest on the Polish side, tired, weak, and desperate on November 11. Three days later Avin had a miscarriage.


Avin’s husband, Baravan, and their five children buried the stillborn baby in an Islamic cemetery in the area. Marked by a small stone, the grave joins other recent graves of fallen refugees to this horrific humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe.


Despite losing his wife and unborn child, Baravan continues to fight for a new life in Poland for his family. Baravan explained, compared to their daily life in Iraq, Poland showed him and his family basic human decency for the first time in their life. Evidence of the hard life this family leads.


Avin’s story demonstrates the stark reality of the refugees who are stuck between the two Eastern European countries. These people’s determination to travel miles in some of the harshest conditions, to reach a country they do not even know will help them, demonstrates how dire their situation is.


Photo: Anna Biniecka, Michal Kranz (Al Jazeera)


Story of Avin