Documents used to board planes
Somewhere over Europe, Kassem went to the airplane’s bathroom and flushed his fake Italian passport down the toilet.
When he landed in London’s Heathrow Airport a few hours later, Kassem presented his Syrian ID to U.K. immigration officials and requested asylum. The trip wouldn’t have been possible using his actual, Syrian passport—the country’s four-year civil war has turned it into a burden for anyone fleeing the conflict.
Rama Khouly and her husband Hazem Dakel
show off their Swedish travel documents which
allow them to travel. Ms. Khouly flew to Sweden
last year using a fraudulent Greek passport.
Photo: Hazem Dakel
When asked where his passport was, Kassem told the officials: “It’s in the toilet.”
While hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees make the dangerous sea voyage to Europe followed by arduous treks across the continent, some of their countrymen have used fraudulent Western passports to board planes to countries where they can request asylum. Winter’s approach, turning seas colder, stormier and more dangerous, is expected to increase the practice.
There are no reliable figures on how many Syrians use counterfeit passports to board international flights. But smugglers estimate it is 1%-5% of those heading to Europe. With thousands of Syrians making the journey, the underground market in fake travel documents is thriving, traffickers say.
In the first half of this year, Syrians also topped the list of those caught using forged documents to travel into the EU’s Schengen zone, according to Frontex, which oversees the EU’s borders in cooperation with member states. With 258 Syrians caught, Syrians accounted for more than 10% of those discovered using false papers.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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