BEHIND THE PHOTOS: BEARING WITNESS TO THE ARRIVAL OF SYRIAN REFUGEES

BEHIND THE PHOTOS: BEARING WITNESS TO THE ARRIVAL OF SYRIAN REFUGEES

BEHIND THE PHOTOS: BEARING WITNESS TO THE ARRIVAL OF SYRIAN REFUGEES

Fabio Bucciarelli's coverage of the Syrian war was awarded a Robert Capa Gold Medal in 2013. He has also been honored with a World Press Photo Award, the Prix Bayeux-Calvados, the Picture of The Year International Award, the Best of Photojournalism and the Sony International Photography Award, among other prizes.


From 2011 to 2016 Fabio Bucciarelli photographed the plight of refugees fleeing the uprisings of the Arab Spring. During that time, he began work on his long-term project, "The Dream," a blend of photojournalism and art photography that plays witness to the largest mass exodus of refugees since the Second World War. His goals: put faces to the numbers, restore dignity to refugees, connect the viewer to the emotions of those who were often portrayed indifferently. The "dream" for the protagonists is to start a new life, find a job, care for their family. These dreams sustained the refugees he met, who hailed from all walks of life from workers to educated professionals, poor to middle class.

Bucciarelli's photos are shot using digital, analogue, and pinhole cameras. His journey took him to Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Serbia, Macedonia and to the small Greek island of Lesbos, where many of the photos that follow were taken as boatloads of refugees arrived along those shores.

The clouds me-thought would open and show riches. Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked. I cried to dream again.
— Shakespeare's The Tempest
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Kiz Kalesi, Turkey

 

A Syrian woman in Kiz Kalesi near Mersin, Turkey, looks at the sea waiting to board an illegal ship for Europe. As the Syrian civil war continues with no end in sight, thousands of Syrian refugees have reached the Turkish coasts around Mersin, turning to human smuggling operations as a way to reach Europe. One of the smugglers operating out of the port of Mersin, when interviewed in 2015, reported that $6,000 (USD) are required, per person, to get illegal passage to Europe on board of old freighters.

 

Skala Sykaminias, Greece

A Syrian family weeps tears of joy after reaching, on a rubber boat from Turkey, the village of Skala Sykaminias located on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. Thousands of refugees, mostly coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to reach Europe: a relatively short but extremely perilous journey. According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 850,000 arrivals by sea were registered in Greece in 2015.

 

Lesbos Beach, Greece

A Syrian refugee woman faints on Lesbos beach after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. For many thousands of refugees and migrants heading to Europe from the Middle East, the long route to a new life lies through Greece and the Western Balkans with the ultimate destination in Germany and other northern EU countries.

 
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Idomeni, Greece

Syrian refugees waiting to cross an illegal border between Greece and Macedonia near Idomeni, Greece.

 
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Skala Sykaminias, Greece

A Syrian refugee thanks God after reaching the village of Skala Sykaminias, located on the northeastern Greek Island of Lesbos.

 

Lesbos Beach, Greece

Refugees and migrants reaching the tiny Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.  Most of the arrivals are from Syria, with large contingents from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and North African nations.

 
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Augusta, Italy

Syrian refugee children play in the reception tent at the dock of the Sicilian port of Augusta, Italy after having been registered by the Italian authorities. They left from Mersin, Turkey and spent five days at sea without food or water before being rescued by the Belgian navy. The number of refugees and migrants taking the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, fleeing war, hunger, and persecution, is only increasing.

 

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Fabio Bucciarelli is an award-winning photographer focused on conflicts and the humanitarian consequences of war. Since 2011, he has been documenting the refugee crisis in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Italy, France, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. "The Dream" project book is available here.