The New York Times reports: Smoking cigarettes and huddling against the midnight chill, a group of Syrian men sat outside a mosque waiting for a smuggler’s call. It was their last chance, they said, to reach Europe.
It was late Friday, hours after they watched news reports from cafes and hotel lobbies that the Europe Union and Turkey had struck a deal that would send refugees from war-torn countries back to Turkey, from the shores of Greece. Time was running short: Officials said the deal would take effect Sunday.
“One hour ago,” said Milad Ameen, 19, when asked when he decided to set off for Europe. He had a life jacket, an inner tube and small bag containing his passport and school certificates he hoped would help him land a job in Europe.
As the men waited, they lamented a deal that they believe shuts the door on the last way out of their misery. “It’s for Turkey’s good, but not for the good of the Syrian people,” Mr. Ameen said.
A man standing next to him, who gave only his first name, Raafat, said he was from Aleppo, Syria. Raafat said he was demoralized that Europe no longer seemed to welcome Syrians. When he heard news of the pending deal, he rushed from Istanbul, where he had worked in a textile factory, to this coastal city. “We aren’t going to Europe to destroy Europe,” he said, explaining that he wished to assimilate and learn the language in whichever country would take him. “We are going in peace. [Continue reading…]