In Greece, a family split apart by border closures in desperate bid to reunite

By Sarah Crowe

After Sarah Alsabsabi’s kindred fled from Aleppo to Turkey in 2013, her father’s soundness started deteriorating. He journeyed on to Germany in what place he learned that he had kidney cancer. Now, Sarah and her household are desperately trying to reunite through their father, but after finally intersection the Aegean Sea, they have erect themselves stranded once again.

ATHENS, Greece, 6 September 2016 – Word in the long run came after months of anxious delaying from her father, Kasem Alsabsabi, in Bebra, Hessen, Germany – he had arrived, had some operation, was on radiotherapy treatment, had found a place to live and was since ready and desperately keen for his darling family to join him.

In February 2016, Sarah, 12, stud off excitedly from Izmir, Turkey, by her mother and her seven brothers and sisters. The tribe escaped Aleppo in 2013 and worn out nearly three years in Altinozu, Antakya, Turkey, not well-nigh from the Syrian border.

Her male parent used to repair airplanes in Aleppo, mete had not been able to operate in Turkey. On top of that, his health had continued to decline. It was no other than once he arrived in Germany in conclusion summer that he found out he had kidney cancer. This information made the family all the other thing anxious and determined to join him and they started to take money from friends and family.

A critical sea crossing

On their first attempt the smugglers suddenly doubled the reward at the last minute. It was timely spring and the smugglers knew the violent tide of generosity that had swept athwart Europe in the late summer of 2015 had started to ~ over distinctly frosty in 2016. They began to adject extra costs, and the family, who had already borrowed US$600 from relatives in Saudia Arabia, couldn’t give to start paying extra.

On the aid attempt, Sarah and her family were upright 10 minutes off shore when the india-~ dinghy started to take on moisten. It was a terrifying moment. More than 300 migrants had perished without ceasing that same Aegean crossing in the six weeks in front of the Alsabsabi family tried. The superficial life vests the smugglers charged them on account of were of little use. Sarah’s author knew the dangers and had tight her older and younger brothers, Mohamad and Seraj Aldeen, to swim. They helped the others be in possession of back to shore – devastated only not defeated.

Finally, it became actually a case of third time happy and they made it across, except their luck ran out just since they arrived in Mytiline, on the Greek island of Lesbos. Across the Balkans and regions of Europe, fences were going up and sufferance was coming down. Sarah’s silent was in a wheelchair because of her depraved back, so the idea of acquirement stuck in the mud in Idomeni, boreal Greece, was daunting.

“When we went in the boat I was in such a manner scared but I was just belief about my father and wanting to have existence with him,” recalled Sarah

“The subdue part of coming here was while our boat sank and my small table got wet in my backpack sack. My teacher gave me that advantage of a tablet for coming primary in class which made me exceedingly happy because my brother was the individual getting all the prizes.”

“I took it all the world over with me. Now it doesn’t act anymore but I still keep it,” she before-mentioned and rushed to show it to us.

Like any child on the move, Sarah could solely take a few light but prized effects in her little backpack. For her it was the digital small table that she had won for to come first in class as a refugee tyro in Turkey. And, being a young ‘tweenager’ of pin, she could not resist packing her chunky pale pearl necklace, her sequined handbag, trendy T-shirts and lots of brightly coloured ribbons. After every part of, they weren’t going to allot her down and they mattered, to her.

Germany seemed to such a degree far away, so foreign – one more language, another culture. But for this parents and children from the besieged city of Aleppo it was a elysium where they could build a of recent origin life together. Her father could already say ‘Wie geht es, danke schön’ [How are you, thank you]. Sarah was up for it and her sister Sham, who loves languages, had before that time started showing off.

It was not the capital or even the second time that the lineage attempted to cross one of the principally dangerous sea routes on earth. And to compose matters worse, it was winter.

The nowhere baldric

For weeks they stayed out in the explain in tents on the islands and hereafter more weeks still in tents attached the mainland at the port of Pireaus, suitable where luxury cruise liners would appointed sail for the beautiful Greek isles.

Moving to one air conditioned container with a befitting bathroom in Skaramangas refugee camp good outside Athens which housed 3,000 refugees in full, was progress. But it was not infectious them forward. It was not leading to a route to see Kesem.

Even in opposition to this resolute and resilient family, the abeyance is still too much. Sarah is some of more than 27,500 children in Greece who consider found themselves in this nowhere band – waiting for a decision in all parts of their lives.

“I am considerably fed up being here, we are suitable stuck here. I miss everything in regard to my life in Aleppo – my friends, the neighbourhood, my granny, my uncles, everything. I loved my fertile school in Aleppo and my academy in Turkey, they were private schools and I tried exacting to do my best because my ancestor had paid a lot of coin to send me there,” uttered Sarah. “Sometimes when there were bombs and gunshots totality around there would be no exercise, but I had all my friends there so we stayed together.”

“The sole thing I want now is to move and stay with my father in Germany and learn German in a discipline there.”

Hopes for Sarah and her lineage soared when her father Kesem – at present with a refugee passport – delighted them through a visit. They have appealed to the the government in Germany and Greece to aid them reunite.

“It’s excessively hard for us right now. I pleasure do everything I can for my children and my wife to join me in Germany. I don’t comprehend how my health will be and they are quite I have. We lost everything,” afore~ Kasem on his visit to Greece. “Inshallah the governments in Germany and Greece bequeath help us be together.”

Returning to chide

As they are stuck in this place of spirits of waiting, the best thing notwithstanding Sarah and her brothers and sisters has been the aptly named Hope School. It had been started by a few enterprising refugees, led ~ means of Basel Shrayyef, 28, a communication engineer who had precisely left Aleppo in March when the investment in their city was raging. They gathered in the same time any and all of the refugees who had had more education, including Sarah’s sisters, Isra, 19, a pharmacology bookish man, and Moena, 18, who were amidst the first teachers in the teach. They ended up teaching their brothers and sisters, what one. Sarah found a bit weird at primeval, she said.

They downloaded some nurture materials from the Syrian and Iraqi schooling websites and started makeshift classes – refugees teaching refugees, making the best of a terrible situation. With the support of a Greek NGO Pireaus Open School and UNICEF, some 650 children in the Skaramangas camp mode to classes in a small container each 40 minutes, starting from 9am until 6pm. UNICEF is providing technical furtherance, classroom supplies and teacher support, and in October it have a mind be bringing in 11 more classroom containers, and additional supplies.

For now Sarah is thus thrilled with the school that smooth though she only attends one class a day, she can often subsist seen hanging about outside the microscopic container for hours, clutching her now-defunct tablet, just to boast to her friends, a slightly.

And while she waits in this high-flavored, huge refugee camp of containers and “missed souls” (as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called them), Sarah’s superlatively good thing is getting dressed up in dizziness pants and a T-shirt, blowing up her india-~ ring – even wearing her chunky fake pearls – and flinging herself into the begrimed waters of the port where the older boys refine their dives.

One day, she says, she inclination learn to swim properly because she none wants to be stuck on a falling dinghy with a flimsy life short coat ever again.

Learn more about the humanitarian condition for Syrian refugees
Learn more hind part before the humanitarian situation for refugees and migrants in Europe

Updated: 7 September 2016

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