The waiting rooms of Europe
For two years I have been following the southern border of the European Union, to conduct a documentary project about the immigration crisis that strikes the area. This region presents a unique problematic regarding immigration issues, indeed because of the geographical position the countries along this border are the first ones to “welcome” the migrants. The routes leading to Europe are diverse, but not so much so that they offer a great choice of countries through which it is possible to enter the Union: Spain, Malta, Italy and Greece are the usual illegal gates used by migrants. However, because of a lack of help from the rest of the Union, and the overwhelming number of refugees pressing at their doors, those countries are turned into huge waiting zones: administrative and political limbos.
This state of things is being institutionalized bylaws that try to contain the migrants in those countries unfortunate enough to have a border with the Mediterranean. One of those law that best represents this tendency is the Dublin Regulation II. Following the decree from the European Parliament put in place in 2004, every migrant entering the Union has to ask asylum in the first country where he finds himself in and stay there until a decision is taken on his case.
Therefore migrants have to wait in anxiety and restlessness for invisible authorities to decide of their future: whether they stay, are sent to other members of the Union, or sent back to their home countries. The anguish, frustration and anger of the migrants caught in those transitory places are the subject of this documentary. To conduct this project I explored the refugee camps of Malta, Ceuta (spanish city on Moroccan territory) and Greece (Athens and Patra mainly) which are among the most frequently used entry points in Europe. The images presented are not divided according to which place they have been taken in, as this project tries to show that this issue is common to the whole of Europe, and not specific to isolated places. The pictures are not trying to show the day to day life of people in the camps either, as a typical photojournalistic essay would, because this subject has already been extensively treated. For that reason the esthetic employed also tries to stay away from a photojournalistic depiction of these places, to focus more on how to convey the state of mind of the people living there, often using images on a symbolic level.
The project aims at showing that the final decision, acceptance or rejection of the migrant, does not matter as much as making sure that it is reached quickly, in order to prevent people from wasting years of their lives pointlessly.