13-year-old boy among 15,000 adolescents migrating alone to Sweden

GOTHENBURG, Sweden-- Thousands of refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Afghanistan are now being pursued by winter.

In Eastern Europe, many are stranded in Slovenia, cold and hungry, after Croatia and Hungary closed their borders. The refugees' destination is Western Europe.

Desperate parents are breaking up families to save their children. At least 15,000 kids have applied for refuge in Sweden.

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The ferry from Germany broke through the gloom of a thick morning fog, leaving behind the heavy shroud of danger and uncertainty.

Among the new arrivals are a record number of teenagers travelling on their own.

In Sweden, children who qualify for asylum are granted residency, $275 a month, an education and a place to live.

So many have arrived, this school has now become a transit center, a hangout for the thousands of adolescents from Afghanistan and Syria.

Some are barely teenagers, like Omar Wahibbi, from Damascus. He is 13 years old.

Asked if he traveled from Damascus alone, Wahibbi said, "Yes."

Wahibbi said his parents made the decision after the war got worse. They said at least in Sweden he wouldn't die.

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"My mother was crying," he said. "She was very upset."

Wahibbi said the last thing his parents told him was, "They said I should go, and they hope one day to see me in Sweden."

For many that's the aim: to be granted asylum, and then bring their families over too.

Matilda Brinck Larsen is the social worker who runs the center. She says many of the children are traumatized when they arrive.

"If someone puts his eyes on me, I have to put my papers away and just sit for a minute, and share his story. And even if we don't have the same language, he can speak to me with his eyes, with his expressions." Brinck said.

She and her colleagues are trying to give them hope for a better future.

Wahibbi has a big dream of a better future. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he answered that he wants to be a doctor. Asked if he believes he will be a doctor, and he answered, "Yes."

Because of the increased numbers, the asylum process can now take a year. Adolescent migrants stay in transit centers for a few weeks, then they're sent out to places like an empty nursing home we visited, or foster homes. But Sweden is struggling to keep up with demand.