Monday, July 13, 2015

Disappointment awaits migrants fleeing conflict to Greece

They arrive full of hope and ambition to idyllic Greek islands, having fled war and other perils. However, once in Athens the migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan discover a country in crisis with little to offer them.

At 6 a.m., with the sun rising over the Athens port of Piraeus, hundreds of grateful migrants disembark from ferries in the midst of summer holidaymakers.

Despite their fatigue, the relief is palpable among the migrants made up of relatively young men, but also families whose only luggage is a sleeping bag and a backpack.

Some take selfies on their mobile phones to record their arrival.

Among them is Hisham Mohieddine, 37, a Palestinian from Syria and former U.N. employee.

Beside him are his wife Wallaa, looking exhausted, and their three daughters – the youngest just a few months old.

Mohieddine says he is happy to be in Greece and wants “to find a new life far from the war.”

Two weeks earlier the family set foot on the Greek island of Lesbos, in the Aegean Sea, around 20 kms from the west coast of Turkey where they had embarked.

Having originally left from Damascus, Mohieddine and his family spent six days at a camp on Lesbos sleeping under the stars.

They eventually received a month’s visa and were invited to take the boat to Athens.

No one was waiting for them there except for Vodafone employees selling international telephone cards....

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