For one Syrian, normality in Germany is happy ending

Tue Sep 1, 2015 5:10pm EDT
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By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - It was an unlikely end to a journey from Syria marked by death threats and constant fear - an ice cold beer in a first class train seat with a view of the German countryside.

When Rabie Hajouk fled his country's civil war he had not set out for the country he now calls home, and when he related the first part of his journey last week while waiting in Hungary, he had not expected the final bit to be so easy.

In Saudi Arabia, where he had headed first, to join his brothers after his house in Syria's Homs was destroyed, Hajouk worked for a year and a half as an electrical engineer but said he then fell foul of the religious police.

"I wasn’t safe," he had said while waiting on the border between Serbia and Hungary, inside the European Union's border-free Schengen zone, explaining why he decided find his sister in Germany instead.

It was not an easy decision: among hundreds of thousands of people who have sought refuge and better lives in the European Union this year from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, thousands have died, in overturned boats or sealed trucks.

Hajouk had already endured a month of hardship and there was more to come, he told Reuters on Tuesday from the German mobile phone he bought when he reached his destination.

He and his travel companions, five women and six men, decided to sneak through newly built razor wire Hungary has erected on its border with Serbia, so they could avoid being fingerprinted by Hungarian officials.

"Then we ran through the cornfields and tried to dodge the police cars. We found two smugglers, a woman with her teenage brother, who promised to take us to Budapest for 200 euros each. They told us to wait and they went to get taxis."   Continued...

Migrants wait for the visit of German President Joachim Gauck in an asylum seekers accommodation facility in Berlin, Germany, August 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Stefanie Loos