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Photo story: On Europe’s border

Most illegal entries into Europe take place in Greece, a country in deep economic crisis. Between March and May this year, Tom Jamieson, a young photo journalist from UK, travelled to the country to document the situation of illegal immigrants on one of Europe’s borders.

Evros Delta. The Evros river runs between Turkey and Greece creating a natural border between the two countries. It is is a popular but hazardous crossing point for those wishing to enter Europe, with 28,000 recorded crossings in 2011. Greece, a frontier between Europe and Asia has found itself at the centre of immigration issues, with 90 per cent of all illegal immigration in Europe taking place through the country.

 

A guard tower along the Evros river, in the border region between Greece and Turkey.

 

An African woman in her 20′s lies in the morgue at Alexandroupolis Hospital. She was found on February 14th and died of hypothermia. Those wishing to cross the river place their money and lives in the hands of people smugglers, who lead them across the river in small inflatable boats.The journey is not guaranteed and with freezing temperatures and a depth of 4 metres in winter, many die each year from drowning or the cold.

 

The unidentified bodies are brought to Sidiro, a muslim village in the Evros region for burial. Here they are placed in unmarked graves, amongst 400 others, in a cemetery just for immigrants.

 

A guard tower, surveillance cameras and segment of barbed wire fence near the town of Nea Vyssa on the boarder between Greece and Turkey. The Greek authorities plan to build a fence along an 8 mile stretch of Greece’s land border with Turkey at a cost of around 5 million Euros. Many doubt the effectiveness of the fence, believing smugglers and migrants will just move further along the border. So far no work seems to have begun, with only a segment of the fence actually existing on the site.

 

Two police officers look out along Greece’s land border with Turkey during a border patrol. In the distance is the Turkish city of Edirne.

 

Fylakkio detention centre, between Nea Vyssa and Orestiada. Immigrants and refugees arrested in the border region between Greece and Turkey are brought to a detention centre like this. They are held here while they are processed by the authorities. The centres are often overcrowded providing extremely uncomfortable living conditions for those inside them.

 

Riot police during a demonstration by Athen’s immigrant community and supporters against recent racist attacks and the rise in popularity of Chrysi Avyi, or Golden Dawn, the far right Neo-Nazi political organisation in Greece.

 

Two immigrants talk on their phones high above Athens by the Acropolis.

 

Three refugees from Afghanistan inside their apartment in a building exclusively occupied by immigrants, in a downtown neighbourhood near to Omonia Square, Athens. The area is inhabited largely by immigrants, prostitutes and drug dealers and provides cheap accommodation for around 5 Euros per day.

 

An evening meal in a home belonging to a group of Bangladeshis and Afghans, near to Omonia Square, Athens.

 

Inside an apartment in a building exclusively occupied by immigrants, in a downtown neighbourhood near to Omonia Square, Athens.

 

Inside an apartment in a building exclusively occupied by immigrants, in a downtown neighbourhood near to Omonia Square, Athens.

 

Celebrating Nowruz, or Persian New Year, at Polychoros Anna and Maria Kalouta in Neos Kosmos, Athens. The celebration marks the astronomical vernal equinox, occurring around March 21st each year and provides an opportunity in Greece for immigrants to celebrate and enjoy their culture with music, songs, theatre and poems performed throughout the afternoon.

 

Outside a clinic providing free healthcare and medication in Athens. The clinic, run by volunteers and the french aid agency Medicin du Monde, or Doctors of the World, was originally set up to provide healthcare to immigrants. Due to the economic crisis Greece is facing, around 35 per cent of the patients here are now Greeks, a number expected to reach 50 per cent by the end of the year as the crisis deepens.

 

A woman with her baby walks into the child care unit at the Medicin du Monde outpatient clinic in Athens.

 

A young Afghan man outside his make-shift home in the port city of Patras, Greece.

 

A make-shift home in the port city of Patras, Greece.

 

A food distribution organised by the Integration of Immigrants and Citizen Support in Patras, a port city in western Greece. Here bread and pastries donated by bakeries are distributed once a week to the cities migrant population. The city is a popular transit point for those hoping to smuggle themselves aboard trucks and ferries headed for Italy and other western European destinations.

 

A group of young Afghans on the roof of a building that forms part of the abandoned Peiraiki-Patraiki textiles factory in Patras. Two of the boys bear the marks of the police brutality in Patras, one has a broken arm and the other a broken ankle. The group spends the day on the roof, which can only be accessed by a ladder that can be removed if necessary, to easily hide if the police visit the factory for one of their regular surprise raids.

 

A game of football inside the abandoned Peiraiki-Patraiki textiles factory in Patras, Greece.

 

A refugee from Afghanistan, outside the abandoned Peiraiki-Patraiki textiles factory in Patras. The derelict site is home to immigrants from all over the world who have come to the city in the hope of smuggling themselves onto trucks and ferries destined for western Europe.

 

Photos and text by Tom Jamieson.

Tom Jamieson is a young documentary photographer based in the U.K.

Focussing on socio-political issues and people groups, his work has ranged from Iraqi Christian refugees living in Turkey to disenfranchised Iranian youth, immigration in Greece and Cornish trawler-men.

To see more of his work, visit his website.

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