For refugees arriving in Sweden for the first time on the high-speed train it is a taste of the comfort promised by the West. But this has been a sometimes terrifying journey for Zaki, Nagwa, and their four children.
No matter what the dangers, anything was better than staying in Syria to be bombed, shot or worse. The Khalils have come through Turkey to get to the EU, then further north from Greece.
All six have arrived at their chosen destination unharmed, nothing short of miraculous. The journey began in 2013 with escape to Turkey, but the camps offered no work, no way of building a new life, so Zaki came to Europe for the first time alone, and tried to get his family to join him. That failed, so in desperation he took five peoples’ fates into his hands.
“In Slovenia we suffered, there was cold, hunger and thirst but we had things ahead of us, we were eager to arrive. When we got to Germany, we thought we were done, we thought the journey was over. Instead we stayed four to- six days there, almost the same amount of time that it took us from Greece to Germany. So the impossible has happened, for me, this is like a miracle,” said Zaki Khalil.
Baby Hevin is six weeks old. Two of these have been spent on the road, so mother wants only one thing, to clean her children.
“The youngest is the most important thing now, if it wasn’t so late I would give her a bath right now,” says Nagwa.
At the same time as new lives are beginning for this family and many others in Sweden the country is toughening its position on refugees, after granting status to 150,000 since last year, most of them from Syria.
In total it is expecting 190,000 this year, but now wants the EU to relocate some, as Swedish centres are full.
A raft of new measures making immigration more difficult was agreed between government and opposition at the end of October.