Réfugiés

A growing sense that Afghanistan is slipping into greater chaos and will not stabilize anytime soon is driving rising numbers of Afghans to flee for Europe, hopeful that they will enjoy the same welcome given to Syrians and Iraqis seeking safety from war and terror.

Tens of thousands of children like him are born on the run from war, persecution and poverty — some in cities swelling with exiles, like Yazan’s Beirut, others in forlorn refugee camps from Kenya to Thailand, and still others in transit, as their parents cross the Mediterranean for a new life in Europe. They belong to no nation

The rubber dinghy rolled perilously on the waves and twisted sideways, nearly flipping, as more than three dozen passengers wrapped in orange life vests screamed, wept and cried frantically to God and the volunteers waiting on the rocky beach.

The European Union predicted Thursday that up to 3 million additional asylum seekers could enter the 28-member bloc by the end of next year, suggesting the staggering pace of new arrivals in recent months shows no sign of abating.

Drowned babies and toddlers washed onto Greece's famed Aegean Sea beaches, and a grim-faced diver pulled a drowned mother and child from a half-sunk boat that was decrepit long before it sailed. On shore, bereaved women wailed and stunned-looking fathers cradled their children. At least 27 people, more than half of them children, died in waters off Greece Friday trying to fulfill their dream of a better life in Europe.

Mounting one of its biggest rescue operations in the Aegean Sea this year, the Greek Coast Guard on Wednesday saved some 240 migrants after a large wooden smuggling boat capsized in high winds off the Greek island of Lesbos, killing three people, including two children. The search continued late into the night in a bid to find more survivors.

Newly arrived migrants were lining up at the train station in this border town for their first registration one recent evening. In a group of young Afghans traveling on their own, Matin, from Kabul, said he was 17 years old.

Reza Mohammadi lost his parents in a forest in Macedonia. Or Serbia. He does not remember. What he does remember is that it was raining: Thick mud clung to his shoes and weighed down his 7-year-old legs. His family had fled from Afghanistan to Iran, then to Turkey. They had boarded a rubber boat to Greece and were rescued by the coast guard before moving on, mostly by foot, toward Germany.

The small Balkan nations on the path of the human migration through Europe are seeing record numbers of asylum-seekers cross their borders, and are overwhelmed in their ability to manage the human flow. Despite hopes that plummeting temperatures and treacherous seas would finally slow the tide of refugees flowing into the heart of Europe, fresh fighting in Syria and growing fears of border closings are driving more migrants to undertake the treacherous trek.

They arrived in an unceasing stream, 10,000 a day at the height, as many as a million migrants heading for Europe this year, pushing infants in strollers and elderly parents in wheelchairs, carrying children on their shoulders and life savings in their socks.

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