Human interest stories coming out of refugee camps in the Greek islands are abundant, but one in particular, involving a Syrian family of three, is overwhelming.
Nahil Alhelb was beginning to worry her toddler son would forget about his father Mohamed, who had been missing for more than a year after being kidnapped by Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
But the family was happily reunited on the Greek island of Lesvos after Mohamed escaped and embarked on a long, frantic quest to rejoin his wife and son.
Nahil and Mohamed, a tailor, had been living in Jordan, where they had met in 2013, safe from the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 330,000 people since 2011. Then in 2016 the couple moved to Turkey, planning to cross into Europe.
But when Mohamed went to Syria to fetch personal documents to help his mother also make the journey, he was captured by ISIS and held for six months in the northwestern city of Al-Bab in Aleppo province.
When Turkish forces pushed ISIS out of the area, the jihadists tried to get rid of their captives. They thought most of them were dead and took them to a mass grave, from where Mohamed managed to escape.
It took him weeks to get into Turkey, trying to reach the area where he had left his wife and child with relatives. He succeeded in crossing the border on his eighth attempt, but his family was gone.
Mohamed eventually reached the nearby island of Samos, where it took nearly two months to persuade Greek authorities, with the help of the UN’s refugee agency, to let him rejoin his family in Lesvos.
The family, whose tale could not be independently confirmed, has been granted asylum in Greece and will soon depart for Athens.