GEORG GATSAS DOCUMENTS THE CONFLICT THAT COMES WITH SEEKING A BETTER LIFE
￼Greece has a population of close to 11 million inhabitants. According to the Ministry of Civil Defence, more than 750,000 people have migrated into the country since 2005: first across the Aegean Sea, then over the Evros River that divides Turkey and Greece. 60% of all migrants to Europe reach their destination using this route.
It is practically impossible to apply for asylum in Greece: in 2010, 10,300 applications were received but only 60 were granted. Asylum seekers get neither financial support nor accommodation. On the streets they’re at risk of racist violence, arrest or deportation.“Whatever their reasons for making the journey, people want to survive,” says Muhammadi Yonous, the President of the Afghan Community Association. Yonous knows the lives of migrants in Athens like few others. “The vast majority, 95% of the refugees, do not want to stay in Greece, but to travel further to other European countries,” says Yonous, adding: “Europe can build its fences as high as it likes but people will come all the same, their journey will just become more dangerous.” In 2014 alone more than 100 migrants died in their attempt to cross the Evros River on the border. Many were never found: the strong current carries them off and the sludgy riverbed becomes a mass grave.
This series came about thanks to an invitation from the journalist Kaspar Surber, and was published in his book ‘An Europas Grenze’ (On The European Border, Echtzeit Publishers, 2012). When we undertook the reportage, only a few voices in Europe were being raised regarding this silent catastrophe at the edge of Europe, which in the meantime it affects us all. At least that has changed. Hopefully politics will change too.