LUEBECK, Germany, (Reuters) - Ihab steps off the train at Luebeck station and, seeing his family on the platform, breaks into a run.
“Umi, Umi!” he shouts - Mum! - and hugs his mother and father, his brother and sisters and their children, who have all come to meet Ihab, his wife Abeer and their two daughters.
Ihab’s parents and other family members found sanctuary in Luebeck some time ago, but have always longed for Ihab to join them. On the station platform, they cry with joy.
The young Syrian family have completed their week-long trek across Europe, from a Greek Mediterranean island to Germany’s Baltic coast.
They have crossed a continent to find a new home, safe from the barrel bombs, artillery shells and poison gas attacks which have killed many thousands of civilians during four years of civil war in their country.
They first sought refuge in Lebanon, one of Syria’s neighbors, although millions of Syrians are scattered between Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
In late August, the family set out for Europe, taking a ferry to Turkey before paying people traffickers for the short but dangerous trip by boat to the Greek island of Lesbos, where I first met them.
From there, I joined them on the long way north to Luebeck, 2,000 km (1,200 miles) as the crow flies - but many more on the winding trail of the refugee.
Every stage of the journey, by bus, by boat and by train, took them further from their home in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, on the banks of the Euphrates river.
Watching them at the station in Luebeck, I remember the words of Ihab’s six-year-old daughter Yasmine on the train heading north: “My country is the best in the world. I will go back, when the war ends”.
Reporting by Zohra Bensemra; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Clelia Oziel