EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Almost all the “poor” illegal migrants on the Greek islands want to go to Germany, where they have heard from friends and relatives that they will be the best paid for being refugees. The cliché “the-poor-souls-are-fleeing-war-in-their-native-country” is becoming less and less convincing by the day. True, most Syrians fled to Turkey after the start of civil war in their country. But is flight from war their motivation as they proceed onwards to Greece, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria?
[At the end of July, the number of refugees and migrants in Greece waiting to be granted asylum or deported was 62,407. The five Aegean islands (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros) are home to 15,222 asylum-seekers and migrants.]
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-grey sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
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