Lesbos Island, Greece, Nov. 16, 2015. A female refugee who has just crossed from Turkey holds her baby wrapped in thermal blankets. She traveled by rubber dinghy and landed with other members of her family on the northern shore of the island.
Today, there are more refugees and internally displaced people than at any other time since World War II.
Unable to simply watch as a bystander, Roger LeMoyne spent two weeks covering the mass exodus from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq on the island of Lesbos in Greece and Macedonia.
Roger comments: “There’s a profound dissonance between the situation and the type of people who are refugees and who, as such, have come to embody the region’s instability. During the two weeks that I spent in Lesbos and traveling with migrants to the Macedonian border, I encountered members of an educated middle-class, graphic designers, doctors, entrepreneurs. I wondered: ‘How can someone who’s informed, who’s well-read, who has access to technology and who has some financial means be reduced to putting his life in peril crossing a sea on a dinghy, walking through inhospitable lands, waiting, like cattle, at border control centers and boarding trains that are reminiscent of another tragedy?”
November 2015, Refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are permitted to board a train that will take them from a Macedonian transit camp on the border with Greece to another camp on the border with Serbia, from where they must travel on foot to Serbia. Refugees pay 25 Euros for an unheated, overcrowded train ride that lasts about 4 hours and crosses all of Macedonia.
Roger’s new work visualizes the geopolitical divides at the source of this crisis and explores the changing shape of the asylum landscape. In a recently published interview, Roger speaks further on the crisis and his visual response alongside the commentary by Dr. Jen Bagelman, who studies questions of asylum and citizenship, Christopher Tidey from UNICEF, and Sonja Kuiten, a volunteer.
We may well be witnessing a paradigm shift in human migration and ultimately, the definition of national borders. Thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries are moving through Turkey to Europe. Many are landing in small boats on the Greek islands, Lesbos being one of those closest to Turkish coast. That is where this European journey begins. It wins through Greece and Macedonia, where my time ran out near the Serbian border. I hope to continue this coverage soon.