SWEDEN (BP) -- Inside a coffee shop on a damp and dreary afternoon, I sat next to Ahmed,* a 32-year-old Iraqi refugee I first met in Milan, Italy, two months earlier. Thousands of miles from northern Italy, the married father and former information technology worker sat drinking a cappuccino as music blared in the background. The scene in Sweden was quite different from our initial encounter:
MILAN, Italy -- Huddled around electrical outlets in the McDonald's of this city's largest railway station, Syrian refugees, many of them young men in their 20s, wait as their phones charge. A short walk away, a line forms as more Syrians wait to register with a local relief organization. Others sit near the station's entrance, patiently waiting for a van ride to one of the nearby refugee camps. Waiting has become a staple of life for many of these and other refugees in Milan, Italy, since fleeing their war-torn homelands. Most left Syria months ago, joining the rapidly growing stream of immigrants seeking a better life in Europe. United by family, friendship or simply the shared experience of suffering to get here, they remain hopeful and resilient. Yet they wait.