women in exile

This photoreportage was initiated by the European Parliament, in order to illustrate the faith of women refugees and asylum seekers, all along their difficult journey through Europe.

It was shot between December 1st of 2015 and January 15th of 2016, in Greece, Macedonia and Germany.



In 2015, almost 850 000 migrants, mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, tried to cross to Greece from the Turkish coast. Hundreds of people arrive on the beaches of the Greek islands every day. More often than not they cross in these inflatable zodiac boats, with traffickers managing to cram in over 50 people on each boat.

Something new has emerged in recent months: women and children now account for over half the passengers. Often four generations of the same family are fleeing war, violence or terror together.


No sooner do the refugees arrive on the Greek coast than they are taken by bus to the Moria reception centre. This is the first ‘hotspot’ centre for registering their arrival in Europe. It is also where they are first separated according to nationality. Where the selection is made, between the “good” migrants, fleeing war zones and the “bad” economic migrants. European doors will open -slightly- for the Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans but will stay desperately closed for all the others.


Then only, the refugees can start their long journey towards northern Europe, via the so called “Balkan road”.

At the Gevgelija transit camp in Macedonia, train convoys arranged by state authorities await them. Men, women, children, old people and babies in arms cram indiscriminately into the overcrowded carriages. Next stop : Serbia.


When the refugees finally arrive in Passau, a small German town on the border with Austria, the end of their journey is almost in sight. Here they can finally apply for asylum so they can stay in Europe. At the ‘Paul-Hallen’ registration centre it is one check after another: they are searched as are the few belongings with which they fled, identification documents are checked, fingerprints taken... The procedure is quick and runs smoothly.

Then one final train journey to a host town in Germany, one they have not chosen themselves.