Syrian Refugee Crisis: Hope for a better future in Germany

Syrian Refugee Crisis: Hope for a better future in Germany

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Ninja Taprogge

A gravel parking area in the north of Serbia, about ten kilometres from the Hungarian border it is late summer and the sun is burning. The temperatures climbed up to 98 degrees Fahrenheit today. In front of a small refugee camp women, children and men are sitting under dried up trees. For the past hours they have been trying to protect themselves from the heat and get some rest. Many of those who have arrived here in Kanjiza have been on the run for weeks. They travelled thousands of kilometres by foot, bus, train or boat in search of safety far away from their homes.

Only five minutes ago Mohammed, 65, arrived with his family. Like most people here he is from Syria. Mohammed is exhausted. He has walked for hours since he fled Syria – through Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. More than three weeks have passed since he and his family fled from Aleppo. Before the civil war broke out in Syria, Mohammed and his family had been living a normal life. He owned two watch stores and earned enough money to provide his family with a comfortable and joyful life. Now, four years later, he has lost almost everything. More than 70 percent of his hometown is destroyed. When a bomb hit his family’s house, they did not have clean water for more than twenty days. Leaving seemed to be the only remaining option for Mohammed, his daughters and grandchildren. “We had no choice. We had to go. Two of my granddaughters are still very young and their health had deteriorated massively,” says Mohammed.

Once they had arrived in Macedonia, Mohammed bought train tickets to the north of Serbia to reach the Hungarian border. On the train, he was separated from his daughters and grandchildren. Sharing his wagon with about 500 other people he could barely move for hours. “The journey was terrible. When I think about it, my whole body still hurts,” he says.

According to the United Nations, thousands of refugees register themselves in Serbia per day. Within 72 hours, they have to decide whether they wish to seek asylum or continue their journey and leave Serbia. Most of the people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continue their journey to reach the Hungarian border after a few hours. Their destination is the European Union. Several buses heading to the border town Horgos leave Kanjiza every day. At the Hungarian border, they look for gaps and holes in the fence and cross at night or dawn, far away from the official border posts.

In the gravel parking space in Kanjiza, a bus arrives. Hundreds of people carrying children on their arms and bags in their hands try to get on the bus. Mohammed and his family are watching. After a short breather they will also travel to Hungary. Mohammed's son has already managed to reach Germany. He lives in Bremen and is waiting for his family. “My brother arrived in Germany a year ago. He sends us tips and gives us advice to our mobile phones. It makes things a lot easier,” says Sahar, Mohammed's youngest daughter. Mohammed smiles and says: “When I was a little kid, my grandfather always said I looked like a German. For a Syrian I am very pale. Throughout my life I have always remembered his words. Maybe that is one reason why my family and I are seeing our future in Germany.”

Together with the local partner organization Novi Sad Humanitarian Center (NSHC), CARE supports families like Mohammed’s with drinking water, biscuits, energy bars and hygiene items such as plasters, tissues and disinfectant spray. During the last two weeks, more than 1,200 people who are in transit to the European Union have received aid. “I am very grateful for the support. We have hardly any money and only bare necessities for children here. We are very tired. For weeks I am dragging a heavy bag with clothes for my three daughters. My shoulders hurt. I will be relieved when we finally arrive in Germany,” says Sahar.