Aylan tragedy only boosts Syrians’ German dream

Friday 11/09/2015
German citizens have been largely welcoming of migrants

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.