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8/20/15

Middle East: Migrant Exodus: Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber light way to Europe for Syrian refugees - by Serene Assir

“Our phones and power banks are more important for our journey than anything, even more important than food,” said Wael, a 32-year-old from the devastated Syrian city Homs who reached the Greek resort island of Kos on Thursday morning.

Refugees are using Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members to share photographs and experiences, find smugglers’ phone numbers, map their route from Turkey to Greece and onward to northern Europe, and to calculate expenses.

They use WhatsApp to help the coast guard pinpoint their location once their boats have reached Greek waters, and Viber to let their families know they have landed safely.

“We couldn’t take anything with us on the boat, we were all so crammed. But these phones are our most precious belongings,” said Wael, who fled Syria with his bright green-eyed wife and 12 relatives, including three children.

They are among more than 135,000 refugees and migrants who have arrived in Greece this year, amid Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War II.

“I wrapped my phone up in a resealable plastic bag to protect it from the water,” said the olive-skinned man.
In Kos, Syrians can be seen taking photographs of each other on the beach using their smartphones, and ordering coffee at local cafes where they can connect to Internet.

Note EU-Digest: As millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya and Sudan are swarming into Turkey and the EU it is amazing to see that our "good friends" on the other side of the Atlantic. who's Middle East policies created all this mess, remain deadly silent when it comes to also offering some of these refugees some assistance or a new future in the US.

Read more: Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber light way to Europe for Syrian refugees | The Times of Israel

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