- Title: War and poverty drive Gazans to seek better life in Europe despite dangers
- Date: 29th August 2019
- Summary: GAZA CITY, GAZA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TEACHER IN FRONT OF WHITE BOARD TEACHING TURKISH TO CLASS STUDENTS IN CLASS SIGN READING (Arabic/English): "ALSUN FOR LANGUAGES CENTER" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GAZA RESIDENT, SHABAN KHALAF, SAYING: "There are no jobs, life is destroyed here and the main reasons are the internal division and the Israeli occupation." KHALAF'S HANDS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GAZA RESIDENT, SHABAN KHALAF, SAYING: "I tried 18 times but, thank god, I failed 18 times, I didn't succeed once. We faced pressure, torture, humiliation and drowning cases. We were also subject to shootings sometimes. We only experienced humiliation and tough times on the way between Turkey and Greece." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN ON STREET GAZA RESIDENT WHO WANTS TO LEAVE THE STRIP, KARIM ABU SIDU, SITTING NEXT TO HIS MOTHER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GAZA RESIDENT, KARIM ABU SIDU, SAYING: "We will follow the same way (to migrate), the situation here is very bad. Even if I finished university, it would be in vain, those who did are now selling tea, coffee and cigarettes in markets." RAFAH, GAZA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RAFAH CROSSING BETWEEN GAZA AND EGYPT VARIOUS OF PEOPLE MILLING AT CROSSING, LUGGAGE ON THE GROUND ELDERLY WOMAN AT CROSSING PEOPLE AT PASSPORT CONTROL DESK VARIOUS OF OFFICERS AT PASSPORT CONTROL DESK CHECKING PASSPORTS GAZA RESIDENT HASAN ALKAN, 25, SHAKING HANDS WITH FRIEND AS HE READIES TO LEAVE GAZA (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 25-YEAR OLD GAZA RESIDENT WHO IS LEAVING, HASAN ALKAN, SAYING: "You never know what's going to happen to you, I depend on God. Of course there are smuggling risks, things do not go the way people imagine it to; to take a flight and travel to Europe, no it's not like that, it will be tough and tiring, you will see dark days. Why (we go through this)? Because you want to live a better life." ALKAN GETTING ON BUS ALKAN WAVING TO HIS FRIEND THROUGH BUS WINDOW
- Embargoed: 12th September 2019 15:48
- Keywords: Palestinians Gaza Israel Hamas
- Location: GAZA CITY AND RAFAH, GAZA
- City: GAZA CITY AND RAFAH, GAZA
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA001AU9UX53
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Shaban Khalaf's advice to any other Gazans thinking of heading to Europe in search of a better life, as he did, is blunt: don't bother - it's not worth the danger and the expense.
Khalaf should know. Despairing of ever finding a decent job in Gaza, where the economy is near collapse, the journalism graduate flew to Turkey via Egypt in June 2018 and tried no fewer than 18 times to cross into Europe, mostly by boat.
The 25-year old, who is now studying Turkish at a language centre in Gaza, told Reuters that every attempt resulted in Turkish or Greek authorities sending them back to Turkey's shores.
By February this year he had given up and returned home to Gaza, much poorer for his ordeal after having paid off the people smugglers who had tried in vain to get him to Europe.
Thousands of other Palestinians have had similar experiences as they try to escape the rampant unemployment, poverty and violence of life in Gaza, a tiny enclave between Israel and Egypt run by the Islamist Hamas group.
Gazans have endured three war with Israel, 12 years of Israeli-led economic sanctions that hamper the movement of people and goods and a protracted power struggle between Palestinian factions.
An unknown number of Gazans have died trying to make the perilous crossing to Europe, leaving families back home unsure about their eventual fate. Some are buried in Turkey or in Greece, or were returned home in coffins.
Human rights activists in Gaza believe around 30,000 of Gaza's population of two million have tried to leave the 145 sq. mile (375 sq. km) territory in the past decade, with a surge in numbers after a 50-day war in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.
Israeli air strikes and shelling devastated entire districts of Gaza in that conflict, as Hamas and other militant groups launched rockets at heartland cities in Israel, which along with Egypt maintains a blockade of Gaza, citing security concerns.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed, according to Gaza health officials, while Israel put the number of its own dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.
Khalaf says the Israeli occupation internal Palestinian divisions are the main source of discontent for locals, referring to economic sanctions imposed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to pressure Hamas to share power.
Hamas seized Gaza during fighting in 2007.
Khalaf said his journey from Gaza cost $3,000, including fees to enter Egypt, a ticket to Turkey and payment to smugglers who tried to take him to Greece while hiding from drones and security patrols.
Greece is a common first stop for Palestinians and others hoping to apply for asylum in the European Union, but EU countries and Turkey have significantly tightened border controls to deter migrants.
But many young Palestinians are unlikely to heed Khalaf's advice to stay put.
Karim Abu Sidu says he is ready to attempt the journey in search of work even though his 22-year-old brother, Hussam Abu Sidu, died in January when his boat sank off Greece. His body is buried in Greece.
The 17-year old says going to university is in vain, because many still end up selling tea and cigarettes in markets.
(Production: Mohammad Shana, Fadi Shana, Arafat Barbakh, Nihad Khalil, Lara Afghani, Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh)
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