How a Refugee Family Desperate to Get to Germany Was Smuggled from Syria to Greece

At least 350,000 refugees have illegally entered Europe so far this year.

September 02, 2015, 10:56 AM

— -- The scenes coming out of Europe are staggering.

There are children crawling under razor wire, people walking mile after mile under the blazing summer sun and whole families who have nothing but what they can carry on the move.

In what has been the greatest mass migration here since the Second World War, at least 350,000 refugees have illegally entered Europe so far this year, which is nearly three times the number of the total from 2014. A majority of these refugees are from Syria.

I met Mohammed and his family in a dusty park in Izmir, Turkey. Mohammed, his wife Batouol, their 10-month-old son Fahad and Mohammed's brother and two sisters fled Syria and go to Germany and find work and asylum.

Mohammed was a career military man in Syria who defected to fight Bashar Al-Assad's regime. Assad's murderous bombing and the rise of ISIS convinced Mohammed to take his family and get out.

Throughout their journey, Batouol, 29, said she tried to stay strong for her kids and her husband. But when I asked her if she ever wanted to give up, she said, "Yes. I said, ‘Let's just go back to Syria.'"

Hundreds of thousands of migrants like Mohammed and his family have come to Izmir, because Turkey has now become the key to the entire exodus. Many have fled war and terror in Syria, coming through Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia and Serbia in the Balkans, into Hungary and finally ending in Austria, Germany, and the rest of Europe.

In Izmir, you can tell the refugees right away from their anxious, weary faces and their massive packs. Most of the refugees, including Mohammed, headed straight to the neighborhood of Basmane to find smugglers to get them across to Greece.

The smugglers charge $1,100 for adults and half-price for children. For many, the cost is their entire life savings. And the risks in the open boats they will be smuggled in are unspeakable. This year more than 2,300 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe.

Mohammed said while on the boat to Greece they were so scared it was going to be swamped they threw their belonging into the water. But despite the exhaustion, they made it to Greece with only a thousand miles or so left on their journey to Germany.

Though they have been through so much, they were bright and eager.

"We are look to the future," Mohammed told me. "A better future."

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