For many refugees, tour to Europe starts on Facebook | Reuters

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BEIRUT/ISTANBUL/BUDAPEST/BELGRADE Would-be refugees anticipating to rush fight in a Middle East are regulating Facebook as their compass for anticipating a people smugglers they wish will get them to a improved life in Europe.

The U.S.-based website and other amicable media that were once used to assistance mobilize a “Arab Spring” uprisings now horde information services for those evading a Syrian polite fight and other conflicts in a region.

There refugees can find most of what they need to know, right down to a prices, fees, bribes they will have to compensate on a tour diligent with dangers trimming from drowning during sea to suffocating in a lorry.

On tip of this, messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber assistance them en track to hit smugglers, friends and families comparison while Internet mapping ensures they don’t get lost.

In Facebook groups set adult in Arabic, users post phone numbers of contacts they contend can take refugees from a Turkish seashore to circuitously Greek islands or even serve into Europe, a continent struggling to cope with a emigration crisis.

For those seeking a vessel float to Greece, sum on where best to cranky a Serbian-Hungarian border, or a cost for being smuggled all a approach from Turkey to Germany, users of these groups seem to offer many of a answers.

An ad posted this week offering a late accessibility chair in rubber vessel vacating from a Turkish strand city of Izmir, one of a categorical points of depart for Syrian refugees perplexing to strech Greece. The price: $1,200.

“The outing is tomorrow, 100 percent, for sure,” it said. “They’ll give we a giveaway life jacket.” Another post offering places on a some-more gentle “tourist yacht” during 2,500 euros ($2,800).

Facebook guides refugees before they even leave Syria, pronounced Muhammed Salih Ali, conduct of a Izmir-based Association for Solidarity With Syrian Refugees.

Many are told on Facebook pages to make their approach to a Izmir district of Basmane, a spontaneous domicile in Turkey for traffickers and those anticipating to make a passage.

“They are means to make hit on Facebook with intermediaries. Once they are in Basmane, they can also spend 3 or 5 days during hotels and examine their options. They pronounce with others about that raider is some-more affordable or has a repute for safety,” he pronounced in an interview.


Social media have played a essential purpose around a misunderstanding that has gripped a Arab universe given 2011.

It helped activists to mobilize protests opposite their rulers in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Syria itself during a start of a Arab Spring, and afterwards became a means for adults to news on a assault that followed.

It stays an critical organising tool, and a unsentimental assist for those travelling to and afterwards by a European Union’s 26 “Schengen area” states, that have scrapped limit controls between any other, as they conduct north for countries such as Germany and Sweden where they wish assistance is during hand.

“We use a intelligent phones primarily, to have a GPS vigilance so we don’t get lost,” pronounced a Syrian interloper who gave his name as Ahmad during a Budapest railway station, where he was camping final week with hundreds some-more refugees.

“We use amicable media, including WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook to promulgate with people we know. If they are already in western Europe, they send information behind to us to assistance us navigate a route,” he said. “That includes hit information for smugglers sometimes, as good as things to watch out for.”

With Turkey hosting about 1.9 million Syrian refugees tour a fight that shows no pointer of abating, many some-more people are streamer all a time to a EU around beside Greece.

The U.N. interloper organisation has purebred some-more than 4 million Syrian refugees opposite a Middle East, with another 7 million driven from their homes inside a nation by a fight in that an estimated 250,000 people have been killed.

Facebook users also sell a latest news coverage from Europe on a crisis, including one story about German football fans unfurling banners welcoming refugees. Another essay lonesome Hungary’s efforts to strengthen a limit with Serbia to delayed a upsurge of humanity.

A outing all a approach from Istanbul to Germany costs 6,000 euros, according to one advert on Facebook.

“Turkey, afterwards Greece, afterwards Macedonia, afterwards Serbia, afterwards Hungary, nearing during Germany. You usually have to travel for one hour, and afterwards cranky a river, with a rest by automobile to Germany,” it said.

One user uploaded a video purporting to uncover a organisation of group wearing lifejackets celebrating as they arrived in a vessel on a Greek island of Lesbos. A heading with a video offering dual phone numbers for destiny customers.

Some refugees make a whole tour from Syria regulating one agent. Hafez, a 31-year-old interloper from Damascus, pronounced he had found his around amicable networks.

“We got information about agencies, prices, fees, bribes, phones – all logistical details,” he told Reuters in an talk in Belgrade.

“We also used Google Maps extensively as people who are channel to Hungary are promulgation us waypoints and coordinates. For a impulse there are dual good spots on a limit and one that is potentially problematic,” he said, indicating to his smartphone.

“It took me 3 months to make a preference to leave Syria. Mainly it was despondency and despondency after years of fight and murdering that stirred me to leave.”

($1 = 0.8881 euros)

(Additional stating by Tom Perry and Mariam Karouny in Beirut; Writing by Tom Perry; modifying by David Stamp)

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