Text: Ursula O’Kuinghttons
Zaina is tired after a long day trip day from Syria. Even so, she smiles thinking that her aim to arrive to Europe is closer than ever; only two kilometers separate her from the border. She has just arrived to Horgos, border city located between Serbia and Hungary that divides Europe from the Balkans. This small and smiley woman is hurrying in order to arrive to the hungarian city of Röszke before the border closes. It is quarter to eleven in a dark and rainy midnight and the Hungarian authorities have announced that they are closing permanently the border. She is carrying her one moth old baby Gayland between her arms and, behind her, her three children: the six years old Mhamad, the five years old Ahmad and the four years old Sheho. This family, native from Aleph, wants to arrive to Germany. They are lucky. They are part of the last group of Syrian refugees that will be able to entry Hungary; just before the government of the First Minister Viktor Orban decides close the border after 9.000 immigrants could cross it. On 14th September 2015, Hungary closed the door to a prosperous Europe to thousands of people that had to cross by foot, bus or train the lands of the old Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman imperium.
It was not an easy route. We walked part of this long journey with hundreds of people forced to avoid cold and rain, hostile borders and the construction of sharpen metal spikes fences. Refugees that have survived to this humanitarian crisis, the biggest one since Second World War, with 60 million of displaced people around the world.
These photographs are a mirror of the refugees’ trip through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Croatia. The lives of mothers, sons, husbands and young people that escape from their countries’ massacres. A journey during which many of them encouraged each other by shouting “yala, yala!”, an Arabic expression that means “come on!”.
The day Hungary declared the state of emergency in the border with Serbia, around one hundred refugees came to the fences shouting: “Germany, Germany!”. Without answer, they turned around and tried to find a new way to get to Europe.