TIME

WHEN THE CALL COMES

A Syrian family makes one more risky journey, this time to learn their fate
Taimaa Abazli, her two children and her husband (not pictured) take an overnight bus to Athens, where they will learn which country will grant them asylum

There is no call more important to the Syrian refugee stranded in Greece than the one from the Greek Asylum Service informing her that finally, after months of agonized waiting, there is a European nation willing to take her in. The polite man on the other end of the line won’t name the country; instead, he instructs the refugee to take a chartered bus to Athens for an in-person interview—these usually take place within the next 24 hours. “It is a destiny-defining moment,” says one refugee, who put off buying diapers for his newborn daughter in order to save up for a battery charger for his phone. “You can’t afford to miss that call. You bring your phone with you everywhere you go. You never let it die.”

Taimaa Abazli, a 24-year-old mother of two, missed that call. She had a good reason: her 4-month-old daughter Heln had just been

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