NEW EUROPEANS - WELCOME TO EUROPE
I remember a day, when the news was showing the uprising of Syrian people in the city of Homs. For me that was positive news, but when I closed my computer something else went through my mind – what if the next morning the news wouldn’t be so good. After a few mornings this became reality. The Government reacted, people took guns in their hands and started shooting on each other. This was followed by people fleeing to neighboring countries. The first refugee camps were set up. I have followed this unfair part of society for years; people fleeing from their homes and I was ready to cover this story for people who don’t have the opportunity to see it with their own eyes. I have witnessed people fleeing from Libya and other Sub-Saharan countries to Europe.
In was only a matter of time, before the refugees from Syria took a route close to my home country (Slovenia), to reach a safer place somewhere in Europe. I approached them with my camera to record this misery. First I met them in Serbia, trying to cross the border during the night to Hungary. Back then only a few dozen individuals took this “Balkan route”. There I joined them on their night walk to European Union. It was harsh and emotional to observe what a human being had to go through, just to feel safe. For the children this was like a play, but you can see in their eyes they have witnessed some terrible scenes. At one point I helped to carry a child. This was a crucial moment in my life. I had to share what was going on with the world.
In next few months, when thousands of people with similar life experience, went through the same journey, it became important to me to follow the story.
I have spent several days and nights with them and tried to understand the situation on a personal level. When they passed villages and borders during the night they have became invisible to the locals – and this was the time I wanted to spend with them. It looked as if they are not part of our world.
From the shores of Greek island Lesvos to their destination in Austria, I followed them on several occasions. I now have more insight into things they have experienced during the war and the exodus from this kind of unsafe life.
There are still many of them who are lucky to escape the war to neighboring countries (Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon), but can’t go down on this route to a safer place towards Europe. Their stories have to be shown and shared. Their personal stories are touching and details in their lives are sometimes very similar to ours in western countries.
There are so many things that are untold, like slaves in the occupied areas, forced conscription into the army or the need to resell various things to stay alive. The figures have to become personalities.