VII will be accepting applications for membership from September 1, 2017 through October 1, 2017.
THE NEW EUROPEANS
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.