A future worth any risk
Despite the risks, refugee and migrants are entering Europe — by boat, by road, by train and on foot — at levels not seen since World War II.
Greece, 2015: Ali Abdul-Halim, 17, and his brother, Ahmad, 15, had feared that their boat would sink before it reached the island of Lesbos.
“It was very, very, very scary and hard, because we thought we could die at any moment, because we never knew how to swim,” Ali said.
The boys, who are from Lebanon, hope to reach Germany.
Greece, 2015: Cold, wet and in tears, Syrian refugee Sidra, 4, and her parents and siblings also came ashore in an inflatable rubber boat, near Skala Eressos Village on the Aegean island.
“I’ve seen a lot of awful things, but the worst part for my kids was the ocean,” her father, Mohammad Abdullah-Sharif, said. “They’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Greece, 2015: Safar Sabah, and 7-year-old year Ilaf, in his charge, arrived on Lesbos by boat from Turkey, where Mr. Sabah had made a promise to Ilaf’s mother that he would look after her child.
“Humanity sympathizes with each other…,” said Mr. Sabah, who left Iraq because there was “killing everywhere.”
His ultimate aim is to reach Sweden.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: Syrians Lujayne Gorly, 10, and her family are continuing their journey on foot after travelling by train to the village of Tabanovce on the border with Serbia.
“… I hope that we make it safely to Germany and that the war would end and that we would go back to our country,” Lujayne said.
Serbia, 2015: At a crowded transit centre, Shaimae Drazeni, 15, and her family are among up to 5,000 people passing daily through the town of Šid, on the border with Croatia.
“I am here as a Syrian refugee and [am] going to Germany to put an end to the agony and the pain. To put an end to the oppression, the humiliation in which we lived.” Shaimae said.
Greece, 2015: Adra Al Bouaamer, 7, soaking wet, is wrapped in blankets upon arriving on Lesbos after her rough sea crossing.
“I was very afraid. I was scared,” Adra said of her boat ride from Turkey. “We felt like we were going to die. I felt safe in my dad’s arms.”
Her family fled Iraq after receiving threats from extremists.
Greece, 2015: Mohammad Abdullah-Sharif and his family receiving aid from volunteers after coming ashore near Skala Eressos Village on Lesbos; and at a reception centre for refugees and migrants.
“I want to provide for my kids, and educate them,” Mr. Abdullah-Sharif said. “We want to go to the UK, but our finances will only take us to Germany.”
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: Syrian Tarik Assil, 7, gets relief supplies after disembarking from a train in Tabanovce Village before making his way to the Serbian border. His family is headed to Germany.
“I liked Greece. … They were hugging and holding me when we landed,” said Tarik, who found the boat ride from Turkey frightening.
Serbia, 2015: Munir Yousufi, 16, living in a park in Belgrade, learns to shave. From Afghanistan, he lost partial use of the left side of his body in a Taliban attack on his home. The money his parents collected to send him to safety ran out.
“I am relying on other Afghans to give me a little bit of money until I can get enough to get to Germany, he said.”
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2015: Mushawa Mosani-Akberi, 15, kisses his brother, Sajar, 1, after arriving in Tabanovce on a jam-packed train. Their parents are still in Afghanistan. In the past two weeks, Mushawa, who hopes to reach France and is now on his way to the Serbian border, has also passed through Iran, Turkey and Greece.
View Shaimae’s video.
View Munir’s video.
View the photo essay Facing an uncertain future.
View the photo essay In Greece, a sea of arrivals.
View the photo essay In search of hope.
Learn more about the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.