Emerging Photographer Fund – 2014 Winner
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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
EPF 2014 winner
Lost Generation : This is the Story of Young, Unaccompanied Migrants in Greece
Hundreds, thousands, hidden in the abandoned industrial areas that surround the port of Patras or in the old disused train station in the centre of Corinth.
I found them in the “urban holes” that dot the landscape of an Athens wounded by the crisis. They are the kids I followed for this project, some of whom are very young. After desperate journeys, they arrive from the wars which have tormented their countries in recent years. But war, for them, was only the beginning of the tragedy.
Those who come from the Middle East and Central Asia are trying to reach Europe, the land I am lucky enough to call home, through its eastern door, Greece. They then get stuck there, amidst increasingly harsh security checks and racism which tragically often degenerates into neo-Nazi violence. For many, there is the hope of being able to rebuild the sort of life that would be impossible in their countries.
The young Afghans I met are mainly fleeing the forced militarization practiced by the Taliban in Afghanistan, subsequent to the war that affected the country in 2001. For many others who are fleeing a scorching North Africa in revolt, the hope is to have recognized the rights denied by the radicalization of the violence in their country of origin. Persecution for religious and ethnic reasons, or due to political opinion, could allow them to obtain refugee status in other European Union countries, but certainly not in Greece.
For this reason, they are forced to hide, because having a Greek police record would mean the end of the dream of safe reception in Europe. I learned that this is set out by the Dublin Regulation, the EU law with responsibility for granting asylum. According to the regulation, the country where a person is first identified is the country that has the duty and right to decide whether to grant refugee status or not, irrespective of where the application for asylum is made.
Alessandro Penso studied clinical psychology at Rome’s La Sapienza University. In 2007, he received a scholarship to study photojournalism at the “Scuola Romana di Fotografia”. Since completing his studies, his work has won several awards, including the PDN Photo Student Award, the PDN Photo Annual Award, Px3, the Project Launch Award in Santa Fe 2011, and the Terry O’ Neill TAG Award 2012, Sofa Global Award 2013, 1st General News of World press Photo and Magnum Foundation Emergency Found. Alessandro is deeply committed to social issues, and in recent years he has been focusing on the issue of immigration in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean countries are providing an outlet for the phenomena of cultural closure, xenophobia and violence, which represent, for migrants, an insurmountable obstacle to their enjoyment of even the most basic human rights.