European Dream | Road to Bruxelles
Palazzo Penna – Apollo Room – h. 18-20
Alessandro is deeply committed to social issues, and in recent years he has been focusing on the issue of immigration in the Mediterranean. During this time, he has produced work on detention centres in Malta, the situation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector in the south of Italy, and young people stuck in limbo in Greece. Alessandro has won several awards, including the PDN Photo Student Award, the PDN Photo Annual Award, Px3, the Project Launch Award in Santa Fe 2011, the Terry O’ Neill TAG Award 2012 and the Sofa Global Award 2013. In 2013 Alessandro won 1st prize singles General News in world Press Photo and received a grant from Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund for his project “Refugees in Bulgaria”.
Founder and director of the “Cortona on the move” festival
Hundred, thousands. Hiding in the abandoned industrial areas surrounding the port of Patras, in the defunct railway station in the centre of Corinth, in the slum areas around an Athens hard-hit by the economic crisis. These are the youths that I have documented in my work, some of whom are little more than kids. They arrive after desparate journeys of escape from wars that torture their homelands. However, those wars are just the start of their trials. Refugees from the Middle East and Central Asia attempt to reach Europe via Greece, its eastern doorway. But when they reach Greece they are blocked by ever-tightening security controls and a widespread racism that often degenerates into neo-nazi violence.
Many of them hope to re-create a life that would be quite unthinkable in their country of origin. The young Afghan boys who I encountered are fl eeing from the forced militarisation program that was initiated by the Talibans in Afghanistan after the war that broke out in 2001.
Yet others are fugitives from the raging revolts of North Africa. It is their hope that the civil rights they were denied in their countries of origin, due to the radicalisation of violence, will be recognised here.
The offi cial acknowledgement of religious, ethnical or political persecution could help them obtain a refugee status in EU countries, though certainly not in Greece.
As a result these young refugees are forced into hiding: if the Greek military authorities registered their names it would end their dreams of a safe haven in Europe once and for all. I learned that this may be a consequence of the Dublin Regulation, the EU law which assigns responsibility for assessing asylum claims. According to the regulation, the country where the person entered may be responsible for assessing the claim using EU laws.
Not only have the Mediterranean countries been the worst affected by the infl ux of these young refugees, but they are also the countries with the least economic resources available to manage the infl ux. The tough social conditions existing within these countries has given vent to a cultural rejection, to xenophobia and to violence that, for the incoming refugees, represents an insurmountable obstacle to obtaining even the most basic of human rights.