Ari Kiro, center, leads his family through the border into Roszke, Hungary. Kiro was elected to lead a group of 42 family members, friends and neighbors from Alepo that included boat, bus, train and walking. (Robert Samuels/TWP)
By Robert Samuels September 9
ROSZKE, HUNGARY — Down the rusty train tracks littered with crushed water bottles and candy bar wrappers, a mass of red and orange hats emerged from the distance. Ari Kiro, dressed in a sleeveless green T-shirt and white sweatpants, marched in the shallow grass beside them, a whistle in his mouth. He blew. They all stopped.
Kiro counted the children: 11. He counted the adults: 34. Forty-five in all — extended family and some new friends — marching together to seek asylum from the war in Syria.
Their past was another land, but they had no idea where their future would be. What they had known, back in Syria — in Aleppo, where most of them were from — was that colder weather and choppier waters were coming, and that the Hungarian prime minister was seeking to seal off this border with Serbia as early as Sept. 15. Not quite two weeks ago, they made a decision thousands in the Middle East are making, to run for the border, while it is still possible.
The family elected Kiro, a masseur, to lead the way. They picked up their new friends in Turkey.
“We thought it would be easier if we all worked together,” said Mohamed Ismael, 30, a pharmacist. “Macedonia was the hardest. Two days without food and water. We had to walk in the dark.”
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