Do Syrian refugees look white

Syrian refugees in fear of death

by Simon Kremer, NDR Info

The stream of refugees who want to leave Syria, a country with a civil war, does not stop. But the refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan are overcrowded. More and more Syrian families are therefore trying to flee across the Mediterranean to Greece and thus to Europe. In doing so, they put themselves in the hands of dubious smugglers.

A new, almost unnoticed chapter of the Syrian civil war is playing out on the border with Europe. For example on Lesbos. A young boy is standing on the beach on the Greek island. The opposite bank of the Turkish mainland cannot be seen from here. He tells of the storm, the boat was full. The water spilled into it. The journey took seven hours, seven hours of fear of death.

Drowned while trying to escape

Two months ago, 61 Syrians drowned while fleeing the Mediterranean coast. Muhannad from the embattled Aleppo also learned how dangerous the crossing is. "I don't remember how I did it. The engine broke down in between," he says. "Somehow I repaired the engine and got it running again."

For many, Germany is the destination

Many Syrian refugees want to stay with relatives in Germany. Until a few weeks ago they came by land: via Turkey, then to Greece and beyond. But at the instigation of the EU, Greece has fortified the border strongly. The only way left for the refugees: the dangerous smuggling route across the Mediterranean. Now coast guard patrol boats are supposed to prevent refugees from arriving in Europe. The crew is Greek. But the sea patrols are coordinated and financed by the European border protection agency Frontex.

One of the men guarding the border is Antonios Sofiadelis from the Greek Coast Guard. "We know what is happening in Syria. It makes us embarrassed when we see what the people there are suffering. But: It has no effect on our job."

Friedrich supports hard line

The EU is sticking to its hard line. In the spring, Federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) also called for the EU's external border to be sealed off in view of the influx of refugees: "Any possibility of making the border safer must be welcomed." This position is also controversial in Friedrich's own parliamentary group - the CDU / CSU. "There are around 50,000 Syrians in Germany," says CDU foreign policy official Ruprecht Polenz. "I know from my parliamentary office hours that many of them want to bring family members who have fled to Turkey or Jordan to Germany. And we should fulfill this wish as far as possible."

Will the uncle from the Rhineland help?

Muhannad and 30 other refugees have made it to Lesbos at least once. Here he is now waiting for his uncle Ismat from Troisdorf near Bonn to send him money so that he can pay for the next smugglers. "Why should you pay 8,000 or 10,000 euros for a smuggler?" Asks Ismat. With this money, you could build a life in Germany much better and take a small apartment.

A few weeks ago, the niece and her two daughters came to Germany illegally. Her flight from Syria cost 13,000 euros.