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The Cost to Escape the Syrian Civil War

Updated on March 20, 2013

It is in its third year, spinning out of control into a whirlwind toilet, the Syrian Civil War that has killed over 70,000 and has created over 1.3 million refugees. Most, but not all, hunker down in UN tents along the Turkish and Syrian border waiting for it to end and praying Assad does not decide to attack them. But not all are happy waiting.

Many Syrian refugees have money and are educated, they are not the poor from that country, but the middle class or rich. In fact, in the past year, there have been over 6,500 of them trying to sneak into Greece. This is six times the normal rate. Once they successfully get asylum in Greece, 90% move to Europe and so far 17,000 have. Germany and Sweden are favorite destinations.

The trip from Syria to Greece, the frequent entry site into Europe, is filled with danger. Many have lost their life trying to get there usually from drowning when the boat sinks. The trip begins with reaching the Turkish coast and paying smugglers up to $2000 per person for a spot on a questionable boat, usually overfilled. But what other choice do they have? Many of the boats are no longer than 15 ft. with 20 passengers. The smugglers earn $40,000. Some boats are wood, while others are plastic. Riding in a 15 ft. boat in the ocean amongst the harsh elements is harrowing. The ride to Greece is four hours and ends with landing on the island of Lesvos. Occupants that have made it often cite that the boat started to take on water and everyone's belongings had to be tossed into the ocean. I guess it is a small price for freedom.

Upon landing, the Greek police gather them up and take them to a holding pen for five days. Usually, the Syrians or any refugee is then given a paper stating that they have 30 days to return to their home country via there country's consulate. The problem for Syrians is, there is no longer one. So, for Syrians, many will pay over $6000 for a fake passport so they can leave Greece. However, the wait can be anywhere from 6-18 months while refugees await approval of their request for asylum. If you are Syrian, you will NOT get it. No Syrian refugee received it in 2012. During your internment, Greek officials treat you as a criminal.

Many Syrian families of 4-6 people live in a one bedroom residence during this long wait, which ends with them finding no refuge. It is unclear what Greece finally does with them. If they cannot deport them back to Syria, do they just remain in detention? Eventually released into a morass of bad economics that is Greece today? They are all subject to human traffic predators. The Greeks do not want them, they have enough problems.

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