2016 / Editorial / Photo Essay

Trapped

  • Photographer
    Nikos Pilos

Since 2009, Greece has been a point of entry and transit for two million migrants from Africa,Asia and the Middle East. Once the refugee crisis erupted this past summer, this number hasexpanded exponentially. Greece's severely troubled economy, porous borders, inadequatereception facilities, and ineffective asylum policies has created a tenuous environment for thecountry’s immigration officials and refugees.After escaping Syria, Afghanistan, and Africa, migrants/refugees attempt the dangerous seacrossing from Turkey to the eastern Aegean islands, usually arriving in Kos or Lesvos. Manymigrants have lost their lives making the perilous crossing. In what has been described as the“worst refugee crisis since the Second World War,” approximately 3,000 people have diedcrossing the Mediterranean according to the U.N. refugee agency.However, there is no relief for migrants even when they survive the deadly journey to Europe.They still risk beatings and tear gas filled clashes—usually due to delays in the registrationprocess—from border control law enforcement during their long arduous journey by foot underextreme weather conditions to reach northern Europe. Now, they can not travel beyond Greece,as border control has tightened up in fear of migrant invasion and terrorism. They are trapped.In February 2016, FYR Macedonia erected a second fence becoming the 12th country—alongwith Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Estonia, Ukraine, Spain andTurkey—in the European continent to fortify its border joining Greece. As Europe seals itsborders by building razor-wire fences to block the influx of migrants, xenophobia andnationalism poisons the open borders policy and the “democratic” values of Europe.