We are in the process of upgrading software and the SDN website will be temporarily unavailable for a few hours on Monday morning EST. Once the software is upgraded, this notice will no longer appear and the site will be back to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Image 1 of 30

Trapped in Greece

Angelos TZORTZINIS | Greece

A refugee boy gazes over a border fence separating Greece from Macedonia, at the northern Greek border station of Idomeni, on March 2, 2016. More of 90.000 refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, after the closure of the borders.

As a Greek, I have myself lived through the unprecedented and painful transformation the country has undergone, be it as a result of the economic crisis or the refugee crisis. The process have profoundly affected me as well, as I am a part of this change.

It brought to mind memories from my childhood, growing up in a poor neighbourhood of Athens, where dozens of Iraqi refugees had also set up their homes, in the 90's. They lived in cramped basement apartments, often five or six in one room, in squalid conditions. We'd play basketball in the streets and do the usual things children that age do, but I always wondered how these people ended up in Greece and what they left behind – their families, their lives.

I have been photographing the trapped refugees in Greece, for the past 4 years, as since 2016, some 90,000 refugees and migrants trapped in Greece since countries in the Balkans closed their borders.

I have been trying to focus behind the obvious problem and help these well deserved stories be told.

Angelos Tzortzinis

Tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty-stricken homelands have become stranded in Greece since the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2016. International attention has shifted elsewhere, and local communities too have turned against them.

I intend to continue documenting the lives of those trapped in Greece and the impact of the refugee crisis on the country's landscape, a project I began in 2016 with the goal of giving forgotten people a voice.

The first time I saw images on television of dead migrant men being washed ashore on a Greek island, their lifeless bodies dragged out of the cold water by locals, it struck me how their dream for a decent life had ended up in tragedy and a two-minute news broadcast.

It brought back memories from my childhood, growing up in a poor neighborhood of Athens, where dozens of Iraqi refugees had also set up their homes. They lived in cramped basement apartments, often five or six in one room, in squalid conditions. We'd play basketball and do the usual things children that age do, but I always wondered how these people ended up in Greece and what they left behind – their families, their lives.

In the years to follow I travelled across Greece, from its island gate-ways to its northern borders, in search of answers. Instead, my questions grew, and I decided to continue to document the journey these people make after arriving in Greece, their children in their arms and their life’s belongings in a few plastic bags.

It was not long before the roads leading out of Greece firmly closed. Balkans countries, the preferred route to northern Europe, sealed their borders, trapping more than 90,000 people in Greece. Newly-built fences, refugee cemeteries and many settlements have inevitably changed the natural evolution of the urban landscape.

Still, a few have not given up hope. Some try to smuggle themselves onto ferries at the western port of Patras to get to Italy, a dangerous passage. Others gathered in a field in northern Greece this month, galvanized by rumors of an organized movement to cross the border. Police dispersed them with tear gas. For this project, I intend to travel to camps across Greece, both official or unofficial, to narrate refugees’ daily lives.

The refugee crisis prompted the biggest movement of people across Europe since World War Two and remains one of the most important stories of our generation, with many untold facets. It will change the face of Greece and Europe for years to come, and deserves to be documented in as much depth and detail as possible. I would like to draw the world’s attention to these people.

E: angelos.tzortzinis@gmail.com

C: +30 693 42 19 128

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments