Dawid Zieliński

Aegean Arrivals

Father embraces his daughter after arriving from Turkish coast to Lesbos island on an overcrowded dinghy.


Civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS in the Middle East triggered largest migration to Europe after World War II. More than a million people arrived to Europe by sea in 2015 and 85% of them crossed Aegean Sea from Turkish coast to Greek islands. The narrow stretch of international waters has been the most dangerous part of their journey, claiming nearly four thousand lives.

This story follows refugees and migrants from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan (to name only a few) during their first days in Europe.

Refugees arriving to Lesbos island on a rubber boat with Turkish coast visible in the background.

Afghan refugees assist a family member as they reach Greek island of Lesbos.

Volunteers comfort a refugee who collapsed shortly after arriving on Lesbos island.

An elderly woman resting after arriving to Lesbos island on an overcrowded rubber boat.

A pair of trousers left behind on the northern coast of Kos island.

Refugees wait in line to register with local authorities in Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. As the camp was overcrowded and its facilities overwhelmed, most new arrivals stayed outside the camp, often for days.

Refugees gather in front of police station in Kos, where names of those who were granted travel documents are listed. Documents are necessary for further travel.

Men, mostly from Pakistan, wait their turn during food distribution organized daily in Kos town by one of NGOs.

Refugees taking the ferry from Kos island to Athens.

Refugees stepping off the ferry in Piraeus port.

Family of refugees moments before boarding the bus to Macedonian border. There is no schedule, buses leave the Piraeus port only when full. The journey takes about 8 hours and costs 45-55 euro/person, giving tour operators an extended season.

Refugees and migrants on the bus  headingfrom Piraeus port to the train station.

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