Refugees arriving on the rocks of Mitilini

Refugees arriving on the rocks of Mitilini, Lesbos, December 2015

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A WAREHOUSE OF SOULS


The plight of Middle Eastern refugees entering Europe through Greece


2015 - 2019


In the middle of a profound economic crisis, in 2015 Greece became the gate to Europe for the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the search of a new life. The islands bordering Turkey have witnessed the flow of people coming mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and in lowest numbers from Pakistan, Iran and African countries. The biggest refugees exodus the continent has seen since WWII has managed to undermine the foundations of the European project. While over one million refugees and migrants entered Europe through Greece and the Balkan route in 2015, and other 355 thousands in 2016, national egoisms were surging in the Old Continent, hindering the EU’s quest for a solution to what has been superficially dubbed “the refugees crisis”. The EU has chosen pragmatism, signing a deal with the authoritarian Turkish government, drafted for “stemming the flow” of migrants and refugees.

Since March 20th 2016, the number of arrivals have consistently decreased. Refugees arriving on the Greek islands, with their meagre belongings and children on their back, are now “welcomed” in detention centres. More then 3 years after the deal they are still taken in militarised overcrowded hotspots and offered few possible legal options such as asylum request in Greece and the family reunification programs, which are both progressing very slowly, because of the lack of engagement of several EU’s countries. Many refugees decided, as a last option, to apply for asylum in Greece. The refugees who still had money and courage left, resorted again to these smugglers to continue their journey overland from Greece to Germany, or by flying with fake passports. The transnational network of organised crime is still thriving, offering the refugees the fastest, yet dangerous, and sometimes the only, solution to reach Europe. All others were instead stranded in Greece, in makeshift camps which multiplied throughout the country. Thousands of people are trapped in the country and an increasing number of them are suffering from anxiety, depression, psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder, that in some cases led to self-harm and suicide attempts. Their stories are now intertwined with the ones of the citizens of a country that experienced nearly a decade of economic meltdown and austerity measures. 

Member of a Spanish NGO welcoming a dingy full of refugees coming from the Turkish coasts to the beach of Skala, in Lesbos, December 2015

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Refugees arriving in Mitilini and being helped by international volunteers, December 2015

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Migrants at the port of Leros, with a map of the Dodecanisian islands where most of the migrants travel through as a first step to Europe

Syrian and Iraqi regugees at the port of Leros, with a map of the Dodecanisian islands where most of the migrants travel through as a first step to Europe, May 2015

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Iraqi refugee praying after arrival in Mitilini

Iraqi refugee praying after arrival in Mitilini, Lesvos, December 2015.

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Migrants cueing to receive food and warm clothes in Moria camp

Migrants cueing to receive food and warm clothes in Moria camp, Lesvos, December 2015

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Iraqi refugees after havomg being identified upon their arrival at Chios costs on August 19th, after their travel by boat from Turkey

Iraqi refugees resting after having being identified upon their arrival at Chios, August 19th 2015

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Refugees being taken on a bus to be transfered to Athens on the aftermath of the fire that killed at least one woman and possibly a child in a fire at the camp - Lesbos 2019

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A Syrian boy cutting the beard of a friend at the Greek-Macedonian border of Idomeni, February 2016

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Women from Afghanistan actively protesting the conditions of sufferance inside of Moria camp on the aftermath of the fire that at least one woman and possibly a child in a fire at the camp - Lesbos 2019

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The train station of Thessaloniki, October 2016

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An Afghan child sleeping on the ferry from Lesbos to Piraeus. His family has decided to migrate to assure him a better future. December 2015

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The Syrian family having dinner in their tent at the Pireaus port, April 2016

A Syrian family, who have applied for the relocation program and are still waiting for an answer, having dinner in the tent where they are living, stranded at the Pireaus port, April 2016

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Maher Dahood, who lost his wife and two daughters on the boat trip at just some meters from the Greek cost, caring about his only child left in the room he is lodging waiting for relocation. He only wants to go to Germany, where his brother's family live

Maher Dahood, who lost his wife and two daughters on the boat trip at just some meters from the Greek cost, caring about his only child left in the room he is lodging waiting for relocation. He only wants to go to Germany, where his brother's family live. Athens, January 2016.

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Ahmad from Iraq, outside the hotspot of Samos, December 2017

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Refugees reaching the camp of Idomeni after they have been walking from the gas station of Polikastro

Refugees reaching the camp of Idomeni after they have been walking from the gas station of Polikastro, February 2016

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Stranded refugees warming up on fire at Polikastro station, at 20km to Idomeni Greek-Macedonian border

Stranded refugees warming up on fire at Polikastro station, at 20km to Idomeni Greek-Macedonian border, which has been opening and closing throughout the month of February 2016, allowing few people to pass through.

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Afghans refugees in Polikastro, refused at the Idomeni border and refusing to get on a bus back to Athens

Afghans refugees standed at the gas station of Polikastro, refused at the Idomeni border and refusing to get on a bus back to Athens, February 2016

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is from Syria but he is not allowed to cross the border of Idomeni because he has no passport, despite all the documentation he brought to explain his case

A Syrian refugee not allowed to cross the border of Idomeni because he has no passport, despite all the documentation he brought to explain his case, a few days before the border shut completely. February 2016

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Afghans refugees on the railway on Idomeni. They cannot believe their journey cannot continue

Afghans refugees on the railway on Idomeni. They cannot believe their journey cannot continue, February 2016

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Refugees being taken on a bus to be transfered to Athens on the aftermath of the fire that killed at least one woman and possibly a child in a fire at the camp - Lesbos, October 2019


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One of the abandoned houses nearby the border of Idomeni were migrants stays waiting to cross the border illegally with a smuggler

One of the abandoned houses nearby the border of Idomeni where migrants spend days and nights waiting to cross the border illegally with a smuggler, February 2016  

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The group of Iranians set out to the wood to cross illegaly the Macedonian border with a smuggler

A group of Iranians setting out to the wood to cross illegaly the Macedonian border with a smuggler, February 2016

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An afghan man sitting outside Moria camp - Lesbos, October 2019

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