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Syrian Refugees Travel From Russia To Europe Via Bicycles To Avoid Crossing The Mediterranean

by Czarelli Tuason / Nov 04, 2015 09:46 PM EST
Syrian refugees enter the Greek Island of Lesbos. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hundreds of Syrian refugees are crossing to Europe from Russia by riding bicycles to avoid crossing the dangerous Mediterranean as they are prohibited from travelling the Arctic border on foot, reported BBC News Oct. 23.

Russian authorities are reportedly prohibiting travelers from crossing the Russian border on foot, while the Norwegian law considers driving people into the country without the necessary documents illegal.

These policies leave migrants to purchase $100 to $200 bikes from Russia to travel 120 meters to Norway, which they consider a small cost to pay in exchange for their arrival to Europe.

Some families were seen travelling on foot carrying luggage and a baby, which seems to be an exception to the Russian ban on pedestrian traffic. The adults, however, were with bicycles on one hand probably trying to appear as cyclists instead of pedestrians.

The refugees are temporarily residing in Norway's small town of Kirkenes that is currently rushing to construct a new reception area to provide shelter to 500 more migrants. The authorities pick up the refugees from the border and transport them to the town by bus, leaving the bicycles behind at the border where they are collected every two to three days to be crushed.

According to Quartz on Oct. 22, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration authorities allow refugees to cross the border without necessary documents, but are required to apply for asylum to be allowed to stay in Norway.

"The Russian gateway to Europe is rather an easy and cheap way," said a Syrian refugee who has successfully reached the European border. "But there is still the high risk of rejection, the language, and the misleading information that could be disastrous."

Since August 2015, over 1,500 immigrants have reportedly crossed from Russia to Norway, with an average of 50 to 60 people crossing the border daily. The Kirkenes police have observed the figures increasing since September.

The new Norwegian route has spread to migrants fast through social media that even Syrian refugees in Lebanon are now attempting to get a hold of a Russian visa.

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