A modern odyssey

I have a friend from Syria. Here, I’ll call him Asif, but that’s not his name. He is afraid of Assad and his supporters. he came to Germany a few months ago. Here is the story of how he got here (the first of 3 installments):

When the war started Asif and his family went to Turkey. They had been living in a beautiful city (he showed me pictures) close to the border of Israel, his mopther an engineer, and Asif had been studying computer science at university. They were able to take quite a bit of money to Turkey though it seemed to run out very fast. Eventually they decided that his mother and 3 brothers would go to Germany, because it was safer than Turkey (he’s no fan of Edogan) and he and his father would stay in Turkey. They had to stay, because Asif didn’t have a passport but his familyl did, so they were able to go. Asif and his father stayed in Turkey for almost three years. His mother send them money so they could survive. Then they decided that it was time to get the family back together as the war in Syria didn’t seem to be ending soon. His father came to Germany a different way, this is Asif’s story.

First, he went on a boat to go to Greece. he had to pay more than 2000€. The boat was filled to the breaking point. When they reached open sea, everyone started puking. „It was disgusting,“ Asif told me. „I had to puke as well.“ His English is pretty good, which is how he was able to tell me so much. The boat ride was supposed to last 2 hours. „But then it was 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours… and no land.“ Apparently their „captain“ had gotten lost. After 40 hours they finally saw land, a small Greek Island. „1km before the land they told us: Swim!“ Everyone in the boat, women, small children had to swim for 1 km to get to land. Asif gave his life jacket to a child who couldn’t swim. Then, on of the last to go, he watched a 70-year old man jump into the water and never come up. „He died… because we couldn’t find him,“ he tells me. I see tears in his eyes, though he suppresses them manly. They reach the beach and are in the middle of nowhere. „We find a road and we walk,“ he says. I can only imagine how tired and exhausted they must be after 40 hours on a filled-to-the-brink-boat and a 1 km-swim – but they walk. Finally a policeman finds them and brings them to the local prison. „We were so happy,“ says Asif.“ Finally somewhere to lie down and sleep.“ I have to suppress my own tears at this point. How do we let this happen, in Europe!? They get to sleep and are fed. Then they are told, they can stay in Greece for 6 months but then have to leave. In the meantime, they’re on their own.

„I have money,“ says Asif. So I can buy a ticket for the ship to go to Athens.“ Asif leaves for Athens, a city he calls „the most ugly I have ever seen.“ He was rather disappointed because it has looked so beautiful on TV when he was watching the Olympics. Finally though, he’s reached the European mainland.

Watch this space for the next part of his journey.

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