The big picture: a makeshift home on the road from Syria to Europe • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The big picture: a makeshift home on the road from Syria to Europe

A Syrian family’s tent in the Turkish town of Erdine, close to the border with Greece. Photograph: Jacob Ehrbahn

Jacob Ehrbahn captures a playful moment in the grim battle by people displaced by Syria’s civil war to reach the west


Last week marked 10 years since the start of the war in Syria. It is a conflict that has created more than 5 million refugees, nearly half of them children. Since the great increase in the number of people attempting to reach Europe in 2015, the Danish photographer Jacob Ehrbahn has made that forced migration his study and obsession. He has “watched as people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea… seen young men and boys hide in lorries or under the seats on trains and watched families crawl under razor wire”. His book, A Dream of Europe, bears witness to the scale and desperation of the tragedy. Ehrbahn hopes it might be a document for history, “so in 50 years’ time, no one can look back and say: this did not happen”.

He took this picture in a public park in the town of Erdine, near the Turkish border with Greece. In February 2020, President Erdoğan of Turkey had announced that he would go back on an agreement with the EU and allow free movement of refugees to Greece. Tens of thousands of Syrians, among the 4 million trapped in Turkey, made their way to the border town, only to discover the Greek side of the frontier shut. The children in this photograph, play fighting in their makeshift tent, were among those families once again cast into the terrible limbo of statelessness.

The children’s father was too paranoid to tell Ehrbahn his children’s names, or where they might go next. The photographer was struck nonetheless by that indefatigable urge to provide some semblance of home, though the tent the family has created was so transparent as to hardly be a tent at all. Ehrbahn has come to know the refugees’ lives as a parallel universe. Each time he returns from an assignment, he says, he has to spend some days readjusting to “ideas of home and safety and everything else”.


Source: The big picture: a makeshift home on the road from Syria to Europe | Photography | The Guardian

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