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THE NEW EUROPEANS

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    Moments after arriving by boat in Lesbos, Greece, refugees and asylum seekers make their way down the shoreline to a road.
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    Volunteers shout to a group of fifty refugees to land their boat on Northern Lesbos. In the background is Turkey.
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    Life vests, sold at stores in Turkey are fake. They may float in water for up to an hour before becoming water logged and drowning the wearer.
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    A man in extreme shock is comforted by a fellow refugee after disembarking a rubber dinghy and fainting on the beach in Greece.
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    Kadoni Kinan, 26, a volunteer and refugee himself, helps a young Syrian boy off a boat.
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    A man jumps into the surf as a boat arrives in Greece.
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    Fatime Hussein Zadeh (left) from Herat, Afghanistan, comforts her daughter Zarah Nabizadeh, 5, after a difficult boat passage from Turkey.
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    Hussein Nabizadeh, 32, holds his sons hand and he walks with other refugees towards a nearby road.
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    Migrants and refugees wait in lines to enter Gevgelia camp on the Macedonia/Greece border.
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    Between 5,000 and 10,000 people pass through the camp every day.
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    Mushawa Mosani-Akberi, 15, an Afghan, kisses his brother, Sajar, 1, after disembarking from a special train on the Macedonian border with Serbia.
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    The "special" trains are from the WWII era, and are operated by the government and local mafias.
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    The carriages are packed to absolute capacity with people making their way to Western Europe.
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    In Serbia, the small town of Presevo has effectively turned into a large refugee transit camp where store keepers offer their toilets for €0.50 and a sea of people wait for up to three days to be processed by local authorities.
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    Police are often over whelmed. Beatings are common.
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    With an absence of NGOs and government aid, refugees have come to rely on volunteers, including this woman from Italy who handed out shoes.
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    Friendships are made on the journey. Here, Syrian and Iraqi teenagers play soccer and get to know one another at a refugee transit camp.
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    Muneer Yousafi, 16, an unaccompanied minor traveling from Afghanistan, is taught by men how to shave in a Belgrade park.
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    Rosa Jelal, 20, a Syrian refugee from Kobani, changes her daughter, Chechak Chea, 10 months old, in a corn field on the Serbian border with Croatia.
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    Children and adults wait to board a bus at a transit camp in Opatovac, Croatia.
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    An Afghan father tries to entertain his son at a camp in Opatovac, Croatia.
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    Refugees take boats, trains, buses, cars and walk on foot during their journey to Western Europe.
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    Upon entry to Germany, all asylum seekers must register for asylum at the local state office. In Berlin, the LaGeSo is overrun with people everyday.
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    Until more permanent housing is found, refugees live at emergency shelters, like this one at Olympiastadion in Berlin.
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    Ali Abdul-Halim (black jacket), 17, and his brother, Ahmad Abdul-Halim (brown jacket), 15, are both unaccompanied minors from Balabak, Lebanon, in a state run child care facility in Braunschweig.
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    The brothers live with other unaccompanied minors in the facility.
The New Europeans

In September and October of this year, photographer Ashley Gilbertson travelled on assignment for UNICEF over the West Balkan route, the preferred path taken by hundreds of thousands of refugees–mostly on their way to Germany from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The essay begins in Lesbos, Greece, where refugees land after a harrowing hour-long boat journey from Turkey across a rough, frigid Aegean sea. On Greek shores, a couple of policemen might be watching as a vessel arrives, but assistance is almost never given. In fact, laws are enforced making it illegal to offer much assistance to the newest of arrivals. There is very little NGO presence on the ground, and emergency aid required by refugees is being delivered by volunteers, themselves often on breaks from work from cities in Holland, Spain and elsewhere. The journey becomes no easier as refugees move north. Local hustlers run transportation options, charging refugees higher and higher rates for passage. Authorities treat men, women and children as equals–no one is provided information and no one–including disabled people–are allowed to move to the front of the line, everyone is shouted at in foreign languages to stay in lines that police attempt to keep orderly with batons and fists. People travel the West Balkan route for two to three weeks. Rain and cold prevent quality sleep on the journey, though most are so exhausted they manage a few minutes when they’re on buses and trains that ferry them from border to border. Refugees who make it to Germany tell of reaching limits at various moments on the journey. Midway through the trip, children beg parents to go back home to Syria or Iraq. These refugees experience a hellish journey–though in the end, resilience prevails–the human spirit and the desire to provide a better future for their children is alive and well in these new Europeans.

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