Thursday, June 21, 2018

Refugee Journeys

It is almost impossible to imagine the desperate situations which people must find themselves in to begin the perilous and life-threatening journeys that are the lot of most of the world's refugees. Some politicians like Donald Trump and Italy's Matteo Salvini seem completely incapable of empathy and presumably cannot imagine how desperate the life of a refugee can be. Perhaps they should be forced to read these accounts of refugee journeys.

Spanish photojournalist Javier Bauluz walked with refugees from Greece to Germany in order to document the journey taken by thousands of refugees as they try to make it to the safety of Europe. You can read about this journey on Seeking Refuge for My Children, a photo report about the long and dangerous trek from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Germany.

Javier's report is broken up into six chapters, each focused on one stage of the journey from Greece to Germany. The route of the journey is displayed on an accompanying interactive map. This map can be used to navigate to any of the six chapters in Seeking Refuge for My Children. Javier's first hand account of the refugees' journeys combined with his powerful photographs of desperate people in a desperate situation combine to provide an evocative and moving insight into the appalling journeys of the refugees seeking entry to Europe.

More than 5,000 refugees died in 2016 trying to get to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat - Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences is an international research project, led by the University of Warwick, which carried out 257 in-depth qualitative interviews with people who have made this journey.

The project has released an interactive story map which allows you to view some of these migratory journeys on a map, while also learning about the individual experiences of the people forced to make these treacherous journeys.

Each of these individual journeys are mapped to show each stage of the person's migration from Africa to Europe. 'Back' and 'Next' buttons allow the user to follow each stage of the journey made by the interviewed refugees. As the map updates the side-panel also updates to provide information about the journey. This information includes the first-hand experiences of the individual refugee and more general information about the conditions that refugees experience at each of the mapped locations.

In 2014 the Global Mail created a superb mapped interactive report on one migrant's personal journey. Filmmaker Matt Abbott gave Muhammad Hussain, a Hazara Pakistani about to set out on a journey to seek asylum in Australia, a video camera and asked him to film his experiences. The result is Hussain's Journey.

The Global Mail's mapped report starts off with Matt Abbot's own recordings of Muhammad Hussain's family and life in Karachi. When Muhammad set off on his dangerous journey to Australia he took over the filming himself. The mapped report of this journey allows you to view his experiences in safe houses, in smugglers’ homes and, in the final stretch of his journey, across the ocean in a boat that is barely seaworthy.

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