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Video: Travelling through the Balkans with Syrian refugees

The Syrian asylum seekers heading for northern Europe come from all walks of life, but all share a desire to build a better life. FRANCE 24’s reporters travelled with them on a crowded train across Macedonia. Here is their report.

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The train bound for the Serbian border is packed with refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war. They include men and women of all ages, and sometimes entire families.

Most of them have paid people traffickers at least 5,000 euros to get this far, crossing the narrow stretch of sea that separates Turkey from Greece's eastern islands.

The train ticket to get across Macedonia costs another 10 euros, a fee the majority of migrants are willing and able to pay.

A growing number hail from the country’s educated middle classes, families that lived a comfortable existence until war broke out.

“If I wasn't strong I wouldn't be able to overcome all the difficulties,” said Hanin, who left Aleppo with her children and cousin.

“I belong to a new generation, educated with access to technology, science and development. We were not born in war, we were living in peace and suddenly the war came. And in the face of war we tried to continue with our lives, right up until the last second.”

Others, like Imad, a low-level civil servant from Damascus, bring with them tales of hardship and suffering.

Imad was arrested, tortured and thrown into jail in Syria. He is fast running out of money and has no idea where he is going.

“I have only 300 euros left for the rest of the journey,” he said. “I'm counting on people being generous,” he added, pointing to a sandwich someone had given him. “But my destiny is in the hands of God.”

Click on the player above to watch the full report.

 

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