It’s hard to describe the scenes

Picture: Boat after boat lands on the coast of Lesvos between Eftalou and Skala Sykaminia. Over 40,000 refugees and migrants arrived that week in Lesvos

It’s hard to describe the scenes I saw in just my first few hours here in Lesvos. I’ve covered the effects of conflict and humanitarian disaster around the world, but I have rarely witnessed scenes such as these.

I’m on assignment for the UNHCR documenting the refugee crisis across the Middle East and Europe. The events that have unfolded in the past few years are unprecedented in their scale, and scope. Not since the Second World War have so many been on the move. The UNHCR estimates there are over 60 million displaced worldwide, with over four million Syrians alone leaving their war-torn country to seek safety in neighbouring countries and Europe.

My project is focused on humanising these events, to tell the individual stories of those caught up in this crisis. These are not statistics, these are not numbers; these are individuals like you or me fighting for survival and the safety of their families.

In the coming months I want to share the stories of those I meet, but today I can only show you what I have seen. Boat after boat landing on the shores of Lesvos, each boat filled with desperate people seeking safety.
After over a decade doing this work, I have never been so overwhelmed, emotionally and angry as I am today. I will let the photographs speak for themselves.

 

Lesvos 18

A young boy wrapped in an emergency blanket

Lesvos 10

A mother and child as they land at Lesvos

Lesvos 15

A young Afghan boy is wrapped in an emergency blanket on landing. As the weather changes, many are now arriving with signs of hypothermia.

Lesvos 5

An Afghan woman, with her baby, sits in shock by the beach