Author: Jacob Ehrbahn (DK)
Description: According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than one million refugees and migrants headed to Europe in 2015. The vast majority paid human traffickers to take them across the sea from Turkey or Northern Africa to Europe. Many of the refugees fled Syria and Afghanistan, because they had lost faith in the possibility of peace in their country within a foreseeable future. The EU’s asylum regulations have collapsed under this pressure, and member countries compete about who can keep the most refugees away from their national borders. Barbed wire fences, tear gas, border controls, tightening of asylum laws and inadequate humanitarian aid have failed to stop the stream of people fleeing war, oppression and poverty, and have instead created many chaotic situations on the refugees’ journey toward an improved life. Captions, Refugee Stream 1-9: 1: A boat with people from Syria and Afghanistan comes ashore on a beach near Eftalou on the Greek island of Lesbos. They have had a tough crossing and everyone is incredibly relieved when they finally reach land. Many cry tears of joy, a man lights an emergency flare, and people dance, sing, pray and snap photos of each other with their cell phones. The 10-12 kilometer journey across the Aegean Sea from Turkey takes one and a half to two hours. A spot on one of the overcrowded rubber dinghies holding 40-60 people typically costs $1,000. Eftalou, Lesbos, 06.29.2015. 2: A man collapses in tears when he finally reaches land and shouts “Why no help, why no help?” Many of the passengers on this crossing are visibly moved and weeping. They were on the sea for two hours and had to remove water from the boat during the entire trip. The boat was close to capsizing, and everything and everyone are soaked to the bone. Despite the approach of winter and worsening weather conditions, the stream of refugees going to Lesbos does not decrease. In contrast with the beginning the year, volunteers from all over the world now greet the boats and help the refugees with dry clothes, first aid, food and instructions on how to proceed. Lesbos, 10.20.2015. 3: At the registration center in Moria on Lesbos the conditions are atrocious. The rain has been pouring for three days non-stop. The area is covered with trash and mud and there is a lack of food, water, medical aid and healthcare. People wait outdoors for up to five days to get registered. In the line for men not from Syria, serious brawls and fights frequently break out over disagreements about their position in the line. No officials are present to control the large number of people, and a group of men carrying clubs emerge as a sort of self-appointed police force, attempting to control the line and mediating conflicts. Moria, Lesbos, 10.22.2015. 4: Mahboubeh from Afghanistan is 19. She has fled from Iran where she was illegally living with her husband and their four-year-old son Matin. For 3 days they waited in line at the registration center in Moria. It’s been pouring rain and their son has became ill. They want to go to Sweden. Moria, Lesbos, 10.22.2015. 5: On April 25th, the Italian navy brought 334 boat refugees to the Sicilian port city of Augusta. They had been rescued the day before near the coast of Libya. Here refugees/migrants are escorted from the navy vessel to a provisional tent camp in the port, where the refugees are checked on while waiting for the busses that take them to a reception center. Augusta, Sicily 04.25.2015. 6: A group of refugees from Eritrea have built a makeshift camp on an empty lot near one of the central squares in Catania. Many of the boat refugees arriving in the Sicilian port city only stay for a few days’ rest before heading further north through Europe. Others apply for residency permits and agree to be housed in reception centers. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 150,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Northern Africa to Italy in 2015. Catania, Sicily, 04.22.2015. 7: A family of refugees crawls under the controversial border fence being built by Hungary on its border with Serbia. The little girl’s hair gets caught in the barbed wire, and precious seconds are lost untangling her. The man lifting the wire does not make it across before the Hungarian border guards arrive, but he takes the risk again later and succeeds. Röszke, Hungary, 08.27.2015. 8: After entering Hungary from Serbia, a group of Syrian refugees attempts to reach a train station so that they can travel to Germany. Earlier that day, they were detained in a field by Hungarian police, who intended to bring them to a holding center, but the group grew impatient and started walking. Unwilling to enter into a confrontation, the police let them go, but continued to monitor the group. When the Syrians reached a railroad crossing after walking around 4 kilometers, some of them gave up and boarded the police busses, while others walked into the dark along the railroad track. Röszke, Hungary, 08.26.2015. 9: September 16, a group of young men storm Hungarian border police from the Serbian border at Horgos and succeed in cutting down some barbed wire and opening a gate. A rumor spreads among the refugees that the border has been opened, causing families with children as well as elderly people to rush toward the line of police officers in the hope that they will be allowed into Hungary. Suddenly the area is covered in tear gas, and the police line advances rapidly, beating on everyone around them. Chaos ensues. People are bleeding, screaming and falling over each other when attempting to get away. Horgos, Serbia, 09.16.2015.