Aylan tragedy only boosts Syrians’ German dream
LONDON - Far from discouraging Syrian dreams of making Germany their new home, the tragic picture of toddler Aylan Kurdi dead face down on a Turkish beach intensified the flow of refugees attempting the dangerous crossing to Greece in search of a better life in Europe. It also stirred the reflexes of welcome and solidarity among Germans and other Europeans.
“We took this horrific, dangerous journey because we wanted to make our children’s lives easier, safer and better. There is no future in Syria for our children,” a 25-year-old Syrian refugee, the mother of two young children, told Doctors without Borders on her arrival at the Greek island of Kos from Turkey. This was a crossing that Aylan and his family did not survive.
Aylan’s picture encapsulated the drama of the Syrian refugees’ journey and has had strong repercussions on Europe’s migrant policy, with France, Britain and other countries announcing they would accept more refugees.
Germany, which has said it expects to receive 800,000 migrants in 2015, announced that it was prepared to accept more in the long term.
“I believe we could certainly deal with something in the order of 500,000 for a few years. I have no doubt about it — maybe even more,” said German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in a September 8th interview with Germany’s ZDF television.
Europe’s doors have opened a little wider as daily more migrants continue to reach Greek shores. About 30,000 refugees are estimated to be in Greece, with 20,000 on Lesbos — an island that has a resident population of 85,000.
About 230,000 refugees have arrived in Greece this year, most of whom will only stay in the country for a matter of weeks before beginning the arduous journey through Macedonia and Serbia to reach Hungary, gateway to the European Union’s border-free Schengen zone.
From there, they will travel to Central and Western Europe, with many Syrian refugees looking forward to a new life in Germany, which has been welcoming them with open arms.
In addition to the official policy in Berlin, German citizens have been largely welcoming of the migrants, including organising reception committees at train stations.
Even German football clubs are getting in on the act, with Bundesliga champions FC Bayern Munich announcing it will set up a “training camp” for refugees and donate $1.2 million to refugee projects.
“Bayern sees it as its social responsibility to help the refugees,” club Chief Executive Officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.