As of November 19, more than 850,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea into Europe this year, and more than 80 percent of them — around 735,000 — through Greece. While the majority are Syrian, there are also asylum seekers from many countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, and Morocco. In addition to war, people are fleeing poverty, indignities, and persecution. Images of dead bodies washing ashore shocked the world. But the persistently poor assumption that the European Union was capable of a coherent, humane, and well-resourced response resulted in delay upon delay by the usual international humanitarian actors. As several previously open EU borders are barricaded, thousands of people remain stranded within Greece, hundreds sleeping in summer tents in temperatures dipping below zero on Greece’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Transit centers become campsites as the devastating reality sinks in that many cannot move northward in pursuit of safety, their hopes, and their dreams.
Some photos courtesy of Renata Rendón for Refugees International.