Europe once again abandons the Kurds PDF Print E-mail

Kurdish refugees fleeing Islamic State face unnecessary hardships underway to rebuild their lives in Europe.



Faridon Abbas, a member of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, noted that many Kurds within Syria are seeking to flee to Europe due to a) Islamic State persecution, b) the poor economic situation in the area, c) the policies of Assad’s government, and d) the desire to avoid military conscription: “The demographics of the Kurdish region are changing in favor of the Arabs. Most people know that the war will drag on and they are looking for a safe zone. The Kurdish region has become free from doctors, engineers, and traders. Many people sell their homes and property at cheap prices to secure the money to go to Europe.”


However, the road to Europe is not an easy one for Syrian Kurdish refugees. While Kurdish refugees from the Kobane area are now ensured the ability to move to Turkey, Kurds from other regions within Syria don’t enjoy this same privilege: “Many people were killed along the border that wanted to go to Turkey. They shoot at people.” Abbas recalled that a cousin of his who now has a German passport returned to Syria illegally in order to assist a sick relative. When he sought to leave Syria, he tried 10 times to cross the border. In the end, the Turkish patrols beat him up, before granting him the right to continue onwards to Germany.


Most Kurds don’t aspire to stay in Turkey because “Turkey treats them badly. Life is very expensive. They have no work and no money. 55,000 Kurdish students from Kobane are now without schools. Turkey does not provide them with schools.” Even though Greece and Bulgaria don’t treat the Kurds much better, Abbas notes that many Kurds prefer to continue onwards to these countries out of the hope that they will eventually be able to live a dignified life in Western Europe, an option that is far more difficult to obtain within Turkey.


However, the journey from Turkey to either Greece or Bulgaria is not easy: “It is risky. You do not know if you will reach Europe or will die on the road or in the sea or the trafficker will cheat on you and take your money.” In one case the Abbas recalled, a group of 19 Kurds sought to travel to Europe by sea. The boat filled up with water and the people on board unfortunately started to drown. A cousin of Abbas’s wife managed to get rescued by Turkish forces, but for a couple other associates of Abbas, it is still not known if they drowned or were caught by the Greeks. He noted that it is common for Kurds to drown while trying to cross over to Greece by sea from Turkey.


But even for the Kurds that manage to make it into Bulgaria and Greece, life is not easy. In Bulgaria, the government does not give the Kurdish refugees enough money to buy food. The Bulgarian police regularly beats them at the border and returns some of them to Turkey. Abbas noted that it is the same story with Greece, although Greece is slightly better than Bulgaria. For this reason, the Kurdish refugees prefer to stay there only a couple of months before moving onto other countries.


“Bulgaria is now very difficult for they built the wall between Turkey and Bulgaria,” Abbas explained. “Now it costs 3,000 euros to go to Bulgaria; 12,000 euros to go to Germany. All of the traffic is controlled by the mafia. If you come from the Kurdish area, they pass you there via Turkey. All of them work together; from Syria to Turkey to Bulgaria to Germany. They are bad people that steal money; they lie to people. There is a lot trafficking; they don’t have mercy.”


In one incident Abbas cited, a group of 25 Kurds were supposed to be brought to Germany. Instead, the traffickers left them stranded in the woods between Bulgaria and Serbia. They didn’t have sufficient clothes for that climate or food. By the time that the Bulgarian authorities found them after several days, four of the Kurdish refugees had died from the cold. Nevertheless, the Kurdish refugees continue to risk their lives out of the hope that they will have a better future in Europe. In one square in Istanbul, thousands of people seek out traffickers to take them to Western Europe.

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