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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 3rd June 2016 > CASH OUT


Syrians are finding ways to send money to family members who have fled the war for Europe—and to relatives left behind


AHMAD KOBAH was 17 when he fled the Syrian city of Aleppo to seek a new life in Europe. When he set off in August 2014, he took $1,600 in cash—enough, he thought, to cover his two main expenses: his airfare from Syria to Turkey and a boat crossing to Greece. “It was a difficult journey,” Kobah says. “But I had to leave Syria to avoid military service.” By the time he got to Greece, Kobah had only a couple of hundred dollars left and needed more to make it any farther.

Kobah had five more borders to cross before he reached Germany, where he planned to claim asylum. His parents, who remained in war-torn Aleppo, waiting to see how their son fared, sent $2,660 via Western Union, which he used to buy food, train tickets, mobile phone credit and the occasional hostel bed when he tired of sleeping outdoors. Finally, on September 24, 2014, he made it to Karlsruhe, in southwest Germany, and applied for asylum, which he received.

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