The Refugees’ Journey Through Europe

By Thomas Nybo. Oct. 29, 2015
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I spent two weeks on assignment for UNICEF documenting the plight of refugees and migrants as they make their way through five countries in Europe (some as young as 5 days old). Here is a selection of my favorite photographs from the trip.


As the rain falls on Lesbos Island, Greece, a family of refugees gather on the beach just minutes after arriving on a smuggler’s boat. They each paid about $1,300 to make the trip from Turkey.

A volunteer in Lesbos, Greece, holds a frightened child just moments after it arrived on a crowded raft from Turkey. The boat, steered by an untrained refugee, landed on a rocky stretch of coast, and the volunteer was handed the baby by the mother, who needed assistance getting off the raft.


A Syrian boy guards all his family’s belongings, stuffed into backpacks, as they register as refugees at a center in Serbia, just across the border from Macedonia. Behind him, thousands of refugees and migrants push up against a police barricade, as they wait for their turn to register. The boy was caught in a kind of no-man’s land between the waiting crowd and people who were allowed in to register.


A small boy waits in line with his family and thousands of other refugees and migrants at a registration center in Serbia, just across the border from Macedonia. The scene is crowded, dirty and sometimes hints at chaos, with many families camped in cheap tents along the streets. Others sleep on the ground. They’€™ve been traveling in the same clothes for days, with little sleep and little food. An aggressive police and military force patrols the barricades and controls the flow of people through a hectic process that can take days.


In a dark, crowded, outdoor reception center for refugees and migrants in Croatia, Mahmood, 7, and his sister Zahra, 5, receive stuffed animals, as their parents collect food, water, blankets and warm clothing. The family fled ISIS in Syria and will spend a few hours at this center, along with as many as 4,500 other refugees and migrants. UNICEF has set up two clean, safe, play areas away from the crowds so children like Mahmood and Zahra can return to the important business of a child being a child.


As the sun rises over the Greece/Macedonia border, refugees and migrants gather along the railroad tracks for the train that will deliver them near Macedonia’s border with Serbia, where they will travel on foot into Serbia as they continue their journey into Europe in search of a new home.


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