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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 13
Gevgelija
By Transterra Editor
27 Oct 2014

Migrants waited a day at this makeshift encampment in Gevgilija, Macedonia for the smuggler who would take them to Serbia.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 11
Gevgelija
By Transterra Editor
26 Oct 2014

Macedonian soldiers burned these tents, in which the migrants stayed on the Macedonian-Greek border.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 09
Polykastro
By Transterra Editor
24 Oct 2014

Migrants had to walk along this railroad track for 11 hours as they attempted to reach Macedonia.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 10
Polykastro
By Transterra Editor
24 Oct 2014

Migrants faced an 11 hour trek along this railroad track as they attempted to reach Macedonia for the first time.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 20
Athens
By Transterra Editor
10 Oct 2014

Majd took this photo of fellow migrants in Athens, Greece.

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The blocked road to England : 1500 re...
Calais
By Steven Wassenaar
08 Oct 2014

In the small city of Calais, some 1500 refugees survive with little or no money, living in tents and receiving one free meal a day from local NGOs. Because of tougher security, the road to England is blocked. Desperate refugees storm trucks in the port, hoping they will take a ferry to England. The chances of succeeding are marginal, however, as all the trucks are checked three times before reaching England.

Migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan share a vulnerable condition in a town that feels it can't handle the situation much longer. Police violence (beatings, tear gas) is often reported but hard to prove, and hundreds of refugees are living in improvised tent camps without water, sanitation or medical aid.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 02
Samos
By Transterra Editor
05 Oct 2014

Majd on a dock near the ferry boat that will transport him with other migrants to Athens after being released from a detention camp near Samos, Greece.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 04
Samos
By Transterra Editor
05 Oct 2014

Migrants who traveled with Majd inside the police vehicle that was taking them to a port near Samos, after being released from a detention camp.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 21
Samos
By Transterra Editor
05 Oct 2014

The detention camp for illegal migrants on an island near Samos, Greece.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 07
Samos
By Transterra Editor
22 Sep 2014

Majd takes a 'selfie' with a friend after reaching the Greek island of Samos from Izmir, Turkey.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 08
Samos
By Transterra Editor
22 Sep 2014

Migrants climb a hill on the Greek island of Samos following the voyage from Izmir, Turkey.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 16
Samos
By Transterra Editor
22 Sep 2014

Majd and two other migrants on an inflatable boat sailing from Izmir, Turkey to Samos, Greece.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 17
Samos
By Transterra Editor
22 Sep 2014

Migrants pose for a photo on an inflatable boat sailing from Izmir, Turkey to Samos, Greece.

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Human Trafficking: A Migrant's Story 18
Izmir
By Transterra Editor
18 Sep 2014

The receipts Majd received after depositing 8,000 euros at the money transfer office run by the smugglers in Izmir, Turkey on September 18, 2014.

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Migrant's Video Captures Perilous Med...
Mediterranean Sea
By mchreyteh
01 Sep 2014

The Mediterranean Sea
September 1, 2014

A Syrian refugee captures with his mobile phone a perilous clandestine journey to Europe and the hardship faced by the illegal migrants before they were rescued by a tanker.

It all starts with the refugees being herded into apartments, that the smuggler has rented, in a poor neighborhood of Alexandria. Walid (not the character’s real name), a 31-year-old from Homs, managed to get himself into Lebanon, from where he was able to board a flight to Cairo. Luckily he had a valid passport.

A few days later the smuggler gives the signal that it’s time to move. Under the cover of darkness, Walid and over one hundred refugees, from Syria and other countries, walk for two hours until they reach the seafront. They were divided into four small fishing boats and drove for five hours, before reaching two larger fishing boats onto which they were transferred.

The two boats sailed side-by-side for three days until they reached an old ferry. The 250 refugees, including many women and children, were told that this boat would take them to Italy. After four days at sea, they were running out of food and water. Some refugees got seasick.

Walid and other men confronted the captain after finding out that he was woefully inexperienced at driving a boat. He was relying on calls from the human trafficking gang, on his satellite phone, to give him directions. The satellite phone was broken in the fighting and the boat was then lost at sea.

It took the captain a day and a half to fix the satellite phone, by which time the refugees were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. At night they saw a light in the distance from a ship heading to Spain. This meant that they had still not reached Italian waters. As the two boats passed each other, the crew on the boat headed to Spain must have caught sight of the refugees because they called the International Red Cross who told them to give the refugees water and food. After doing this the boat sailed on.

In the morning the boat with refugees set sail again but a storm broke. One of the engines broke down and people started panicking and screaming. They saw a large boat and started trying to call it over with a torch signal. After about three hours the crew of the large boat decided to take the refugees to Sicily where the Italian authorities conducted physical examinations, and separated them according to nationality.

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Paris's 'Banlieus' 24
Paris, France
By Steven Wassenaar
18 Jul 2014

10 years ago, on 27 October 2005, riots broke out in the French suburbs. Girl in the suburb Longjumeau. 18 July 2015, Longjumeau, France.

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Spain's Southern Fortress: The Africa...
Melilla
By tclava
15 Jun 2014

TEXTLESS and SUBTITLED VIDEO AVAILABLE

By: Tomaso Clavarino

Mamadou sits on a rock, his eyes turned towards the sea, the hood on his head to protect him from the wind: here on mount Gurugu, the wind blows all day long. He is seventeen years old and comes from Mali, and since two months ago he has been one of about four-thousand inhabitants of what is a veritable tent city on the slopes of an impervious mountain, exposed to every kind of hardship. They survive with tents made of plastic bags and branches, blankets retrieved from garbage cans, small bonfires to keep warm, and nothing more. There’s no water on Gurugu.

Fleeing from war, poverty, violence and starvation, Mamadou had crossed Mauritania and Algeria before reaching this mountain that stands behind the Moroccan city of Nador and overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Europe’s back door into Africa. This is a real village nestled among the trees and clouds, a sea of makeshift tents, packed with migrants from nearly every corner of Sub Saharan Africa. There are Malians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Cameroonians, Liberians, Ghanaians, and all have arrived on Gurugu with a single goal: to jump the wall that divides Morocco from Melilla.

The wall is a triple barrier, 12 kilometers long and controlled by dozens of cameras. It is constantly patrolled both by the Moroccan police and the Spanish Guardia Civil, a seemingly impregnable fortress, but not for these people, on the run from a harsh life and dreaming of a better future. Three or four times a week migrants living on Gurugu descend the mountain in waves, trying to climb over the fence to reach Europe. Those who make it end up at the CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes), a first aid center on the verge of exploding with over two thousand people, crammed into a space conceived for four hundred and eighty, waiting to know their fate, while the others are hunted down by the Guardia Civil and returned immediately to Morocco where they are left in the hands of the Moroccan soldiers.

Returning these men to Morocco is “a clear violation of international law” according to José Palazon, an activist from Melilla. “[This] exposes migrants to violence in a country that doesn’t respect human rights,” he says. “Whenever there is an attempt to jump the wall hundreds of migrants are injured, not by the iron fences, but from the gunbarrels of the Moroccan police.”

Indeed the Moroccan police are one of the biggest fears of the migrants: both for those dwelling on Gurugu, and for countless others hiding in the forests and in the suburbs of Moroccan cities, all waiting to reach Europe. According to one estimate, there are around eighty-thousand sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco.

“Almost every day at dawn the Moroccan soldiers leave their base at the foot of Gurugu, come to our camp and destroy everything,” says Idriss, who can barely walk after being severely beaten. “They pull down the tents, set fire to them, throw away the food, steal the little money we have, our phones. If they can catch anyone, they arrest him and beat him, and then take him to Rabat. We fall over the cliffs, many of us fracture arms and legs, we are hurt and we have no medicine to treat us. Over the years we have stopped counting the dead.”

Mamadou bears the signs of his last beating on his left forearm, a large wound that has recently healed.

Only three or four girls have the courage to live on the mountain instead of joining the women and children hidden in the woods near Selouane, at the foot of the other side of the mountain. There, they wait to board small boats to reach Melilla’s beach. Not all migrants try to enter Melilla by jumping the wall. Those who do so are the most desperate, the ones who have spent all the money they had for the trip, money that was stolen by the police, by the mafias that here control the smuggling of migrants. Those who can afford to try to pass by sea, or by buying false passports. Others pay two thousand euros for a car ride. Not in the passenger seat, but In the false bottom of a car, near the engine, near the exhaust pipe.

“A huge risk,” Juan Antonio Martin Rivera, a lieutenant of the Guardia Civil, says. “These people remain without air and in a high temperature for hours. As far as we know, it is only here that migrants are trying to cross the border in this way.”

All these migrants have a dream: Europe. A Europe which, however, doesn’t want them, and turns a blind eye to the – both Moroccan and Spanish – violence as many NGOs point out. It was only two months ago that the Civil Guard, under pressure from NGOs, local associations and the press, decided to abandon the rubber bullets that over the years have seriously injured hundreds of migrants.

According to Abdelmalik El Barkawi, delegate of the Spanish Government in Melilla, “the enclave is facing an unprecedented migratory pressure” and perhaps this is why the Government of Mariano Rajoy has said nothing about the new barrier that the Moroccan government has begun building around Melilla. According to Spanish newspapers, the dug-out barbed-wire-filled trench has been financed with part of the fifty-million euros that Spain requested from the EU in order to strengthen its borders.

“These reports were first confirmed and then denied by the government in Madrid,” said Father Esteban Velazquez, a Jesuit priest who is among the few to provide assistance to migrants on the Moroccan side.

Left to themselves, trapped at the gates of Europe, and helpless victims of ongoing violence, sub-Saharan migrants who do finally make it to Spain are deported illegally, according to Tereza Vazquez Del Rey, a lawyer at CEAR, the Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees.
“When a migrant is able to pass the first barrier, he is formally in Spanish territory and therefore can’t be brought back to Morocco,” she said. “He has the right to have a lawyer and a translator. He can apply for asylum and can’t be deported to a country where his life is endangered.”

A hundred kilometers from Nador and Melilla is the city of Oujda, a transit area for many migrants on the Algerian border. Here, life for sub-Saharan Africans appears to have improved since September 2013 when the Moroccan government decided to move migrants arrested in Nador to Rabat, rather than to Oujda.

“Previously violence by the police used to be [a daily occurrence]” said Abdullah, a 35 year-old from Burkina Faso. “Many people are starting to realize, after several failed attempts, that going to Europe is really too dangerous, and that it is not worth risking your life. So a hundred of us have applied for a residence permit in Morocco. We want to try to live and work here.”

The majority of the migrants in Oujda live at the FAC, a small sort of camp made up of tents set up in the Mohamed I University. They are helped by the students and the climate is quite calm. However journalists are not welcome here, as there the Nigerian mafia that controls the smuggling of migrants and women has a strong presence in the camp.

So why is the situation for migrants so different between Oujda and Nador?

Father Esteban Velazquez has no doubt: “Because in Nador, and in nearby Beni Ensar, there is the frontier, and the Spanish government has delegated the role of the sheriff to the Moroccan police,” he said.

Violence, mafia, arrests, nothing seems to be able to blunt the will power of these people, of these migrants who have spent five years of their lives hiding in Morocco and trying to pass the wall of Melilla.

“A friend of mine, Moussa, was here on Gurugu for five years, and has tried sixty-seven times to jump over the wall,” Ibrahim said while playing cards in a tent used as a casino on the slopes of Gurugu. “The sixty-eighth he made it. They can treat us like animals, beat us, steal everything from us, hurt us, even kill us, but they don’t know what we are running away from, and they don’t know how strong our desire is to reach Europe. Everyone here dreams of having a pair of wings, but if God wills it, sooner or later, even without them, we will make it.”

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Aging in Place 12
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
30 Nov 2013

After earning selling a few meals to neighbors, Munah Smith prepares to go to the store for soap and dried cowpeas. She says she has been told she was born in 1930, but she doesn’t really know her birthday. Park Hill, Staten Island, October 2015.

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Aging in Place 13
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
30 Nov 2013

A portrait of Munah Smith on her way back to her apartment after shopping for groceries in the Park Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. Through the help of family, temporary tenants and selling home-cooked food she scrapes by.

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Aging in Place 22
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
19 Nov 2013

Mr. Ge and his wife Liu receive a free dental check-up and voucher from NYU's School of Dentistry. Brooklyn, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 23
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
19 Nov 2013

In an otherwise young city where the median age is 29-years-old, the aging population is increasingly overlooked. Of New York CityÕs more than 8 million residents, over 1 million are 60 years or older. Almost half are immigrants with specific language and cultural needs. Spurred by the immigration boom of the 1980s and 1990s, the challenges this growing population contends with reveals critical issues concerning access to health care and quality of life for a graying New York City. Brooklyn, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 24
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
19 Nov 2013

An AMPHS volunteer answers clients' questions. Hewitt Chiu says they have to take time with each client to piece together a patient history for many have no documents. Brooklyn, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 25
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
19 Nov 2013

Another patient, 65, who did not want to be identified (Ms. Chen Lee Fong), was seeking an AlzheimerÕs test and said she had read about AMPHS in the newspaper. Though she has Medicaid, she says she still hasnÕt found a culturally competent primary care physician that is in close proximity to her, even though 70% of Sunset Park is Chinese speaking. Clinics like this she said saved her time and money. And stress: ÒThere is no help for us,Ó she says, Òif I am in crisis I have to go all the way to the hospital in Chinatown and thatÕs not good. There have been times when I feel I am not understood.Ó Brooklyn, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 03
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
18 Nov 2013

A resident at Serviam Gardens takes the catwalk modeling a handmade dress.

"In my area of work it's mainly immigrants," says Gloria, "Americans donÕt seem to want those jobs. But in my country we take care of our old, so it makes sense for me."

Gloria sees reason behind the differences though: "In Jamaica, one person might work while the others tend to the home, so someone can take care of a grandmother. Here, you might have two people having to work, sometimes far way, so I understand that you canÕt always take care of those at home."

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Aging in Place 04
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
18 Nov 2013

Gloria murray, 66, models a handmade skirt at a fashion show at Serviam Gardens. After a house fire in 2010, still unresolved, Gloria spent two years navigating the shelter system. "I moved to three different spaces," she says. "Drugs, pimps, the whole lot. I finally went to Safe Horizons' office and told them: ÒThe places you guys are sending us, do you ever go there and go and look at where theyÕre putting us? You pay a lot of people but you donÕt go there and see where theyÕre putting us. And I started to cry."

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Aging in Place 01
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
17 Nov 2013

Gloria Murray, 66, in her apartment in the Bronx on the day she received her citizenship . Ms. Murray says she came to the US in 1986 leaving behind her children and life to make their lives better. "When I left for the US my youngest son was one year old.I did live-in home care starting at $3/hr. and sent everything home to my three sons and three daughters. It was a rough time. You cry night and day. While youÕre eating, youÕre crying. While youÕre working, youÕre crying. But God saw me through. Immigrants make BIG sacrifices." Bronx, New York, October 2015.

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Aging in Place 02
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
17 Nov 2013

"I was able to bring some of my children here: one, my eldest daughter lives in Yonkers; two are married and live in Pittsburgh. In Jamaica, they would not have had the opportunities they do here. Unfortunately I lost one of my boys: They say it was an accidental shooting, but you know… I pray, but everywhere I go [his death] is there. He was 21-years-old. I don’t blame America, it was gun violence. You have it in Jamaica. What I never experienced in Jamaica was racism." New York, October 2015.

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Aging in Place 15
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
17 Nov 2013

Felicita Chevalier sits in her bedroom. An activist and immigrant she is one of many seniors living at Serviam Gardens, which was set aside as housing for low income seniors in the borough. Eighty percent of Serviam residents earn less than fifty percent of the Federal Low Income Level and the majority are immigrants.Bronx, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 05
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

Munah Smith at home. In an otherwise young city where the median age is 29-years-old, the aging population is increasingly overlooked. Of New York CityÕs more than 8 million residents, over 1 million are 60 years or older. Almost half are immigrants with specific language and cultural needs. Spurred by the immigration boom of the 1980s and 1990s, the challenges this growing population contends with reveals critical issues concerning access to health care and quality of life for a graying New York City. Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 06
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

Munah Smith, an immigrant from Liberia, sits in the living room of her apartment in the Park Hill neighborhood of Staten Island with Blessing, the daughter of a young couple currently living with Munah, stands beneath her.
The Park Hill neighborhood is home to the largest Liberian community outside Liberia, an African country founded by freed American slaves in the 1840s. Many Liberians fled their country due to The Liberian Civil War that took place from 1986-1997. Munah lost both her husband and later her son to the conflict.
Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 07
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

Ms. Smith finds an outlet through her spirituality. She attends the nearby First Trinity Baptist Church, a small storefront church where many new comers and elders of the Liberian community go to worship and connect with each other. Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 08
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

Munah sits with the Deacon of the First Trinity Baptist Church. Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 09
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

Munah heads back to her apartment after church service. Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 10
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

The First Trinity Baptist Church is one of many small storefront churches that keep the Liberian community connected socially, culturally and spiritually. Staten Island, October 2015

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Aging in Place 11
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
13 Nov 2013

A detail of her hands, which were tattooed as a young girl in Liberia.

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South-Eastern Sicily: The Boats on th...
Sicily
By János Chialá
08 Oct 2013

Hundreds of boats lie abandoned on the shores of Southern Sicily after ferrying migrants across the Mediterranean. Thousands of people every year risk their lives to reach Europe, taking to the sea on these often unseaworthy fishing vessels, many of which are lost at sea with their human cargo.

The stretch of sea between the island and north-Africa, known in Arabic as Madiq Qilibiyah (strait of Kelibia), is crossed every year by thousands of migrants on their way to Europe. Many of the boats they sail on, usually former fishing boats sold for scrap and often basically unseaworthy, end up abandoned on the Sicilian shores.

Around the year 1080, the Sicilian poet Ibn Hamdis was forced to leave his beloved island by the Norman conquest and seek refuge in Andalusia. “The crossing at sea”, he wrote in one of his many nostalgic poems on his misfortunes, “wasn't harder than the events which forced the journey upon you”. Ten centuries after, thousands of people are caught up in such bad events that they decide to risk their lives and take to the Mediterranean sea in order to reach Europe. While the journey might be uncertain and largely determined by opportunity, the destination is sometimes clear, with many trying to reach relatives and friends that have gone before and can help in resettling in a new country. Family reunions are not always allowed, and the European Dublin Law forces migrants to remain in the country where they ask for asylum.

According to the local fishermen, those used by the migrants are old, disarmed fishing boats, most likely at the end of their career and definitely not safe for such a long sail. North-African ship-owners probably save some good money in selling them rather than having to scrap them, an activity which will eventually have to be paid for by Italian taxpayers, when and if the Italian authorities do take care of what is a growing presence across the small ports of Southern Sicily. More often than not the boats break down during the crossing, leaving their passengers stranded at sea for days until they are rescued by someone on the other side. With each migrant paying up to 5,000 dollars for the trip, usually in advance, and hundreds of boats crossing every year, this is a lucrative business which guarantees huge profits to organized criminals who do not appear to give much importance to the lives of those who are forced to turn to them. At the European end of the crossing, the boats are the responsibility of local Coast Guard commanders such as Luca Sancilio, head of the port of Siracusa, who are tasked with making sure that the migrants which are sighted make it to shore safely, whether on their own or after having been rescued. “We exist to safeguard human lives”, he said on his vast powers in dealing with emergencies at sea, such as ordering any other ship to offer assistance to those in distress, “which is the first law of the sea”.

According to their testimonies, the migrants spend days on these small fishing boats, completely at the mercy of the sea and the boat's crew members. However most people in Sicily explain that such small boats cannot carry enough fuel to make the journey, and in any case appear too clean to have been used by hundreds over several days, and are therefore most likely towed near the European shores by larger “mother-ships”, some of which have indeed been intercepted by police in an attempt to shut down the trade.

Most migrants recall their time at sea as an extremely scary experience, well known to be a mortally dangerous one. Thousands have died in a long series of shipwrecks, fires and even tragic collisions with Italian police boats, yet many more remain willing to face storms, thirst, sharks and the vast sea in order to come to Europe. For many, however, the crossing is just a small part of a long journey that has taken them through deserts, war zones or prisons.

After the end of their journey, the boats are confiscated by Italian authorities, who also try to individuate the crew members among those who disembark, who are often of many different nationalities and do not know each other. Italian legislation mandates harsh sentences for anybody who assist illegal immigration, in an attempt to stem the flow of boats which has even saw Sicilian fishermen who rescued migrants at sea charged by police and temporarily lose their fishing vessels and their means to make a living.

While the journey has been more or less the same over the ages, the reasons for which people cross the Mediterranean are many and diverse. There are Syrian refugees who can afford the trip to Europe, Tunisian teenagers who have jumped at the first opportunity to seek work, and others who are fleeing famine or violence. European immigration authorities try to distinguish among those coming to grant asylum to some, in compliance with international law, while keeping as many as possible outside the borders of Europe.

The growth of migration across the Mediterranean, legal or otherwise, attests to both the historic difficulty of sealing this narrow sea, with its narrow straits and thousands of kilometres of accessible shores, and to a pressing need for a lot of people to get to the other side, which is met by those who have boats and the will to put so many lives at risk for profit.

What eventually happened to the migrants who came on these boats is unknown, some must have reached their final destination while others are still detained, or might even have been repatriated, possibly to try another time. However, the boats lining up on the shores of Sicily can attest only to those who made it safely to shore, while the stories of those who weren't so fortunate are lost at the bottom of the Mediterranean, alongside the wrecks of thousands of boats exactly like these.

October 2013

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Aging in Place 19
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
14 Sep 2013

As Nirmala got older, she realized many seniors in her community were not adjusting to aging outside of India well. She decided to start a senior group to preserve cultural activities like singing cooking and prayer in a social setting to help curb isolation and depression among her peers. Queens, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 20
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
14 Sep 2013

In an otherwise young city where the median age is 29-years-old, the aging population is increasingly overlooked. Of New York CityÕs more than 8 million residents, over 1 million are 60 years or older. Almost half are immigrants with specific language and cultural needs. Spurred by the immigration boom of the 1980s and 1990s, the challenges this growing population contends with reveals critical issues concerning access to health care and quality of life for a graying New York City. Queens, New York 2015

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Aging in Place 21
New York, USA
By Dana Ullman
14 Sep 2013

Nirmala says good-bye to participants in her senior group. Queens, New York 2015