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My Name Is

Greece’s geographical location has turned it into the EU's eastern external frontier, trying to manage the large flow of migrants and refugees, most of whom wish to go further west to other EU countries. The country is the first gateway to Europe’s mainland for those who have survived, crossing the eastern borders of Greece (from the northeast Evros River to the southeast Aegean Sea) including Greece’s capital, Athens. As a major economic centre, the region of Attica and the connected small cities surrounding it (Megara, Corinth, Lavrio and others) have become a temporary shelter for migrants and refugees on their way to the northern Greek borders (with FYROM) or to western Greece which is directly connected by ferries to Italy.

In September 2011, Greece started constructing a 12,5 Km ‘anti-immigration’ fence across Evros River which is the natural Greek-Turkish border. From December 2012 (when the fence was completed) the safest and easiest route to Europe has been been shut down. The only alternative is the dangerous sea crossing of the Aegean Sea from Turkey, mostly to the Greek Islands of Lesbos and Kos.

Migrants and asylum seekers, in most cases, don’t have legal papers and passports in order to continue their journey.

A part of their journey:

“My name is Omar, I am from Syria. I came to Greece before two years and three months. I came from Istanbul.”

"My name is Mohammed, I’m from Syria. I used to be a university student.”

“My Name is Abdala Omar, I was working in Syria as a teeth technician. I came to Greece illegally, by boat from Turkey.”

“I went of course to Turkey at first, from Turkey I came to Greece. I spent too much money for the smugglers to bring me here. Now I’m in Greece looking for a legal way at least to get me out of here."

"We arrived near the borders of Greece, from there we walked for three hours to reach the border, after three hours of walking we reached the river. The one that is near Alexandroupolis."

"There we were 20 people, we had two boats and in each boat were 10 people, in our boat we were all from Syria. It was very difficult, because no one knew how to paddle. When we got there (in the Greek side), police was shouting to us, to go back to Turkey. The guys from the other boat, from Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan, ran towards Greece. We got out from the boat. The police shouted to us "back!". Women began to cry because a police officer pulled his gun out. It was far from us, around 70 meters and was screaming "Back! Back! Back!" to go back. I did not want to go because I don’t know how to swim, nor did either of the two women and of course nor could the baby. We went back on the boat. It was drifting in the middle of the river. It kept drifting. We were afraid and we shouted for help, "Help me! Help me! Help me!” But the police had hidden and we didn’t know what to do. I told myself that my life ends here. Suddenly the wave pushed us back to the Greek borders. We got out and sat there for half an hour.

I met with the person (the smuggler) in Bodrum. This person took me to a hotel room and he gave me a lifejacket. He told me to stay there until he would called me. At one o’clock in the morning some bus came to take us to the shore. He told us to stay calm and out of sight. In the shore before entering the plastic boat we were told to leave most of our luggages behind to make the boat lighter. After two hours in the sea the smuggler showed us a light in the Greek shore and he told us to go towards this point and then he jumped out of the boat. The first night after my arrival in Kos I stayed in the lobby of a small hotel, then I had two days on the camp and then I got my papers and I went to Athens. I tried two times to pass from FYROM borders."

In December 2014, Mohammed crossed the borders with Skopje, this was his fifth attempt. In January 2015 he arrived in Austria.

In August 2015, Omar left Greece towards Western Europe. He currently lives in Germany.

A woman waits on the beach with her child, shortly after arriving, with other refugees and migrants, on the Greek Island of Lesbos. October 2015.By Orestis Seferoglou
A migrant takes shelter from the heavy rain inside his tent, outside the Moria registration camp on Lesbos island, Greece. October 2015By Orestis Seferoglou
A group of new arrived refugees and migrants walking an uphill in direction to Mitilini harbour in Lesbos island, Greece. October 2015By Orestis Seferoglou
A migrant covers himself with a blanket as he stands under heavy rain at the entrance to the Moria registration camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. October 2015By Orestis Seferoglou
A mother holds her child as they ride on a bus after disembarking in the port of Piraeus from the "Terra Jet" highspeed goverment chartered ferry. By Orestis Seferoglou
Syrian refugees camped outside parliament for weeks because none of them had applied for asylum or shelter. The Syrian refugees, including women and children, have defied the rain and cold to sleep on the pavement opposite the parliament. By Orestis Seferoglou
A Muslim family from Egypt leaving by car at the celebrations of the Eid Al-Adha in Athens, Greece. Eid Al-Adha, also called the Feast of the Sacrifice, is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year. By Orestis Seferoglou
Three Shi'ite Muslims from Pakistan, living in Greece, take part in a Muharram procession marking Ashura. By Orestis Seferoglou
A woman walks among tents inside an abandoned building temporary used as shelter for refugees and migrants in the port of Piraeus near Athens.By Orestis Seferoglou
Abdala Omar Yahya, a refugee from Syria, poses in the balcony of the hotel room where he currently lives in central Athens. By Orestis Seferoglou
Muslims living in Greece praying in a public mosque during the Eid Al-Adha celebration in Athens. Eid Al-Adha, also called the Feast of the Sacrifice, is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year.By Orestis Seferoglou
Omar, a 28-year-old refugee from Aleppo in Syria, sits and poses in the backyard of his basement house in central Athens. Omar used to be a university student. He has been in Greece for two and a half years.By Orestis Seferoglou

See Also

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zenith Photo Award 2014

The third edition of the zenith Photo Award called upon professional and amateur photographers alike to pick up their cameras and take part in the debate on what Islam in Germany looks like.