Aegean coast, through sea and through land


Voices of a generation

On the 14th May, a projection of the documentary “Aegean” took place in Balkan Heart. Two former volunteers of Balkan Hotspot, Tomás Barão da Cunha and Raul Fretes, directed and filmed the documentary in 2018.

The documentary shares the story of three migrants, two from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan. They talk about their journey to Europe and why they left their home country in the first place. Either because of war or because of religion-based oppression, these men came to Europe looking for freedom and for a place where they could be themselves.

This documentary is a reflection of the reality for refugees, the stories behind them. It illustrates the hardship of illegal migrants and asylum seekers. These are the voices of a generation; the documentary shows no faces, just landscapes. The depicted stories may be personal but they also resonate in a bigger way. The struggles these people faced – being homeless or afraid of the police – are not uncommon; a lot of migrants experience them in a similar way.

The directors of the movie explained their goal was to give these men a voice, to change things; these people are indeed “the last of the last”, the people who remained, when a lot of others stayed behind.

“Aegean” poster

About Greece, about Europe

This movie was the starting point of a debate about the refugee crisis in Greece and in Europe. Marianna Karakoulaki, a journalist, and Kostas Achile, a psychologist from Refugee Trauma Initiative, were invited to give their insights and animate the debate. They shared their impressions about the current situation and the possible solutions to improve it.

They explained the difficulty for people from certain nationalities to get asylum. Indeed, a “normalization” of the war happened in some countries, like in Afghanistan. The authorities consider the situation as not-so-dangerous which means that the request for asylum is harder.

Some of the participants of the debate after the projection of the movie: (left to right) Marianna Karakoulaki, Kostas Achile, Urania Rapti, Tomás Barão da Cuhna.

This documentary also made us reflect on the political point of view in the refugee crisis. Can we make a change through the European Parliament election? Are politics the only way to have a long-term solution? According to Marianna Karakoulaki, the European Union showed its unwillingness to do anything; the handling of the refugee crisis was a failure of the EU and the European solidarity. Besides, the institutions are normalizing this situation. It is no longer a topic, no longer a crisis, since blood is not shed anymore. For her, change has and will continue to come from social and grassroots movements and communities.

However, we also questioned the sustainability of this approach. The majority of the population is not volunteering, or even really concerned about the migrants’ situation, although they used to be at the beginning of the crisis. Nowadays, they accepted that it is merely a part of daily life.

This shift in solidarity happened when migrants became visible. Indeed, they stopped crossing through Greece as a transition country and began to stay. Moreover, some years ago, a lot of camps closed and migrants were relocated in urban accommodation, sometimes creating ghettos. Since then, the bridge between populations seemed to sink. How to rebuild it? seems to be the lingering question.

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