The Syrian Refugee

The New Yorker, 26 October 2015:

Syria, 2014: Assad wins re-election with eighty-eight percent of the vote. His victory, he declared, was “a bullet directed toward the chests of the terrorists.”

The going price to smuggle a refugee out of Turkey: $5,000.

In late May 2015, a smuggler named Jamil announces on WhatsApp that a boat is available to take 154 refugees to Italy (Self multiplies $5,000 by 154 and comes up with $770,000. And that’s just one boatload)

The boat is “a white trawler, thirty-eight feet long, with a knee-high railing around the bow.”

The refugees are shocked. One, a pregnant woman named Reem, says “It was a very small boat for a trip to Italy.”

The overloaded boat can’t manage the trip and heads back to Turkey, where the smugglers abandon ship before the Turkish police get there. The refugees return to Mersin, pool their money and “rent a cheap apartment . . .  Once again they were stuck, and the boredom was excruciating.”

The smuggler Jamil re-surfaces and dangles another trip but refuses to return anyone’s money.

A Syrian refugee named Ghaith makes another attempt. This time the smugglers use hand pumps “to inflate a twenty-five-foot black raft” to which an outboard motor is attached. A smuggler asked “if anyone knew how to steer.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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