BODRUM, TURKEY —
Turkey is the gateway to Europe for economic migrants from South Asia and the Middle East. While the world remains focused on Syrian migrants in Turkey, one Turkish town, Bodrum, has more migrants from Pakistan than Syria.
Some recently talked to a VOA reporter as they prepared to embark on a sea journey to reach Greece and other destinations in Europe.
The migrants are looking for better educational opportunities as well as a more promising economic future.
“We have many problems in our country," said Pakistani migrant Muhammed Ali. "We are going to Europe for a better future. A lot of guys, they want to go for study for a better life" but don't have the money they need.
While many came to Turkey with the intention of continuing their journey to richer European nations like Germany and France, some wanted to remain in Turkey to work. But in a few months' time, they have found they cannot achieve the economic prosperity they had hoped for.
“In Turkey, money is the problem," migrant Ali Mohammed said. "The country and the people are good, but I cannot make enough money here. I have five kids, and I have to go somewhere like Italy or Greece to earn a living for my family.”
The migrants wait to hear from agents who have promised to take them to Greece by sea. That trip will cost each person roughly $1,200.
While the Turkish government has increased safety measures to avoid boat tragedies, the journey is still not risk-free. Many of these migrants are accompanied by small children as they seek to embark on a potentially perilous journey with an uncertain future.