The heaving rubber raft, packed with 49 people, had motored more than halfway across the narrow strait that separates Turkey from Greece when it began to rapidly fill with water.

“Whoever can swim, get out or we will all die!” yelled an Iraqi woman near the front, her belly swollen with an unborn child conceived amid war and now facing mortal peril at sea.

Dutifully, four men jumped overboard into the wind-whipped waves as others blew whistles, flailed their arms and shouted prayers into the cloud-covered sky.

Minutes later, the raft careered into the rocky shoreline. It was followed soon after by the four men, who had been plucked from the water by a passing fishing boat.

“Union!” the refugees cheered as they set wobbly foot in this staggeringly beautiful new land.

Their crash landing on the Greek island of Lesbos, witnessed by a Washington Post reporter, had given the refugees from Iraq and Syria an all-important toehold in the European Union. With its aqua-green shoals, olive-tree-studded mountains and five-star resorts, it looks every bit the paradise they had dreamed Europe would be.

Source: Washington Post

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