Tags / Western Europe
Raw footage of ANTIFA, PEGIDA, ProNRW, Hogesa hooligans, and other groups protesting and counter protesting one another, following sexual assaults, rapes, and muggings over New Years Eve in the city center and in the Cologne Central Station on January 9th, 2016.
Hundreds of members of Antifa counter-protesting a ProNRW and Pegida protest at the Cologne Central Station on 6 January 2016.
Two teenage Syrian girls describe the harrowing journey from Syria to Sweden, just two of 1,049,716 who made the journey to Europe to seek asylum from conflict in 2015.
BÅSTAD, Sweden – The two girls huddled together bracing against the bumps and jerks of the long journey. In the darkness they could see the outline of the other refugees who shared their ride, but it was too dark to see their faces.
Suddenly, a small window slid open at the front of the truck container. A man’s voice yelled to the group of occupants to be silent. A hush fell over the travelers as the girls wondered where they were, and what danger was lurking on the other side of their metal box.
“The hardest part is not knowing where you are – just the inside of a truck,” said Reny Borro, 15, who now lives in a refugee camp in Sweden. Sitting next to her at the table was her best friend and former travel companion Hanin Atbash.
“We didn’t even know if it was night or day because we were always in the dark. It smelled so horrible in there,” recalled Hanin, who lives in another camp 15km away.
The girls were on a 10-day journey set to change their lives entirely. Any hope of going home had been shattered years ago by the conflict that ignited in 2011, forcing their families to flee to Turkey. Now, they were on route to Sweden.
“The [driver] would open the door and he would just say ‘Move! Move! Fast! Fast!’” Hanin said, recalling how every few days the group would change vehicles. “He was really rude with us. We’d just move from this truck to another truck. He’d say don’t ask where we are or what we’re doing. Just move. That’s how we came here.”
Together with their mothers, young brothers and Hanin’s father, they were a living cargo being shipped across the continent for tens of thousands in cash.
Life in Syria
The girls, now 15, were not yet teenagers when the conflict began four and half years ago.
“Life was normal, happy,” said Reny as she described her childhood in Aleppo, Syria. “Going to school, going to my grandmothers. Being cooked the best food. We had our home. I had my room, my friends. Then all the problems started.”
Reny is Kurdish, a minority group that make up around 10% of the Syrian population. Before the revolution began, Reny said her class paid no attention to religious and ethnic differences.
“We were all friends,” she said.
But as the revolution gained momentum divisions and distrust set in.
“We weren’t a class anymore,” Reny said.
One day, Reny’s brother, then 7, came home in tears. His best friend, also a Kurd, had been beaten by Arab students at school.
“He saw this happen and was so scared and crying,” she said. “From that time on, we didn’t go to school.”
The day the bombing started in Aleppo, Reny’s father booked them all bus tickets to stay with his relatives in the Kurdish town of Qamishli. They packed light planning to return within a few days, leaving almost everything they owned behind including crucial documents and personal treasures.
“I have no idea if my house is still there, or if my room is still standing,” said Reny.
Meanwhile, in Damascus, things were heating up in Hanin’s neighborhood.
“When the protests started it was pretty scary because there were a lot of kidnappings and things, so we stayed at home mostly. But in our area, bombs might come over at any time,” Hanin said.
People had begun to disappear. Thousands were arrested first by government forces and later by ad hoc rebel groups and criminal gangs. Kidnappings to extort money from families were on the increase by all sides. Anyone, young or old, could be targeted.
Hanin spoke of one incident when her mother, held up by street protests and road blocks, was late in picking her up from school. As she waited alone, a group of young men began to gather across the street, staring and pointing in her direction. Scared she walked on but the group followed, all the time watching her.
“I was so scared they were going to kidnap me,” Hanin said. “Then my mother came. I was so scared I was shouting at her in the car for being late. From that day on, I stopped going to school.”
Escaping the chaos
Soon after, Hanin’s father, who had already fled conflict in his native Palestine over a decade before, decided to pack up his family and flee again. But leaving was not so easy. Others who had tried were arrested and imprisoned by the government, disappeared at checkpoints, or simply vanished on route. They were going to need a smuggler.
“We didn’t know who this man was. We didn’t know anything about him,” Hanin said, describing the driver who collected them from her grandfather’s house silently in the dead of night. “He covered his face so we couldn’t even see him. We just gave him the money and got into the truck.”
The trip from Damascus to the Turkish border, normally a mere 4-hour drive, took one week.
“There were other families [in the truck] but we didn’t know them or even speak with them. We couldn’t even see each other. We’d just see some bodies when the door opened,” Hanin said.
The family had no idea where they were or what was going on around them. Silently they prayed in the darkness they were heading out of Syria and no one would catch them along the way.
“[The driver] would give us something – I can’t call it food – just something to stop the hunger. For the bathroom we had to hold it most of the time."
When they arrived safely in Turkey, Hanin said they saw their travel companions for the first time.
"We were all like, “Oh my God, were you the families with us in the truck?” It was kind of like freedom because I was so scared in Syria and then in the truck thinking the police could take us at ay time. We were really scared. So it was a relief.”
In Turkey, Hanin met Reny whose family had also fled there from the Kurdish region which was now under threat from extremist forces who had developed a bitter rivalry with the Kurdish militia groups.
To Europe in the back of a truck
For more than a year, the two families struggled in Turkey without legal status or decent work. Finally, with all hope of returning to Syria lost, they began planning an escape to Europe.
Reny’s mother ruled out sea travel as stories of boat wrecks and drowning’s trickled back to them every week. Last year, the Missing Migrants Project recorded 3,771 dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea on route to Europe.
So a journey by truck was planned. But the smugglers were notorious for swindles and more deadly deceits, so Reny’s father stayed behind in Turkey with the smugglers, ready to pay as soon as he received word that the two families had arrived safely.
Again Hanin sat in the dark, never knowing where they were or if they would make it. But on this journey she had a friend and the girls became a great comfort to each other.
“This time if we die, we die together,” Hanin said. But still she became overwhelmed by fear and sadness as she thought of her grandparents and others she left behind.
“I was terrified and overthinking. Our parents tried their best to comfort us and talk with us. I was mostly in my mother’s arms. Then one day, [the driver] just opened the door and said ok you are here, go and do whatever you want. That was it. We didn’t have anything to say to each other, even thank you because he was so rude with us.”
The girls found themselves in Sweden. This time it was Reny who struggled. She missed her father deeply and had received news that he was ill and would undergo surgery in Turkey alone.
“I felt so bad inside,” Reny said. “Everything was different. I couldn’t understand the language. I was feeling so empty…[The immigration center] was full of people smelling so bad. It was horrible.”
After a few days they were sent to a camp. Reny described their tiny room as smelly and dirty.
“Our room didn’t even have a toilet.”
The family soon moved to a second camp in Bastad. Although the room she shared with her brother and mother was small, it was clean, but still Reny struggled with her emotions.
“For 10 days I didn’t leave the room. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk to anyone.”
The start of a new life
Reny soon settled and began making friends and attending Swedish classes with other refugee students. Seven months later, both families are still waiting for a decision to be made about their residency applications. But already the girls are enjoying their new stable lives and making plans for their futures.
With her passion for languages, Reny hopes to work as a translator. Hanin wants to study psychology.
“It’s great in Sweden! We can look up at the sky and nothing is following us. There’s no danger. Its quiet, no people screaming,” Hanin said. ”Here I can reach my dreams.”
Overall, they say the Swedes have been kind and welcoming, but things aren’t always smooth.
“There are some Swedish people that don’t want us here,” Reny said. “Cars come past the camp and they stick up their fingers or yell bad words – these are the people that have closed minds. But on the other hand, there are many good people and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Hanin added the Swedes “have taken us all into their hearts” and have provided well for the many immigrants that continue to arrive. But religious stereotypes in the West have come as a shock.
“When people think that I am someone who would kill them, or I’m a bad person just because I’m Muslim, it makes me sad,” Hanin said.
“Everyone loves his own country. There are reasons we come here. The judgment is not good,” Reny added.
Even within the camp, it’s not always easy. Without a man in the family, Reny says she has received some harassment.
“There are some bad guys so I got hassled. Most of the women wear hijabs. As Kurdish we have a more open culture so as you can see I don’t wear one. But the camp is full of people from all over the world. Some are bad, but most are good.”
In the days following this interview, Reny’s father finally arrived in Sweden to an emotional reunion. Both families are confident they will receive their decision soon.
“When I was in Syria I felt like it’s over – everything was hopeless,” Hanin said as they reminisced about the day they emerged from the back of a truck into a very different world. “In 10 days your whole life has changed.”
Wherever they end up, the one thing the girls say they are sure of is that they will always be friends.
“We’d lived a really interesting and horrible and successful story together,” said Reny as Hanin nodded and laughed in agreement. “These days we call it an adventure. But, it was really scary. I don’t want to live it again, but it’s a memory that will never disappear.”
Syrian refugee Reny Borro, 15, in her new home in Bastad, Sweden.
Syrian refugee Hanin Atbash, 15, in her new home in Bastad, Sweden.
Hanin Atbash and Reny Borro pose together for a photo in Bastad, Sweden. The two best friends hid in the back of a truck to escape the conflict in Syria and travel to Europe to begin a new life. They now live in refugee camps in Southern Sweden awaiting their refugee application decisions.
Volunteers conduct free Swedish lessons in a camp in Bastad, Sweden.
Asylum seekers receive food at a camp in Bastad, Sweden.
Rooms for single men at the refugee camp in Bastad, Sweden.
Refugees awaiting asylum play football at a camp in Bastad, Sweden.
FULL DOCUMENTARY VIEWABLE ON REQUEST
From Runes to Ruins is the first ever documentary film about Anglo-Saxon paganism. Independently produced and funded, it is unique in its emotive and artistic approach to religious history.
All over Britain there are people whose lives are influenced by the largely forgotten culture of the Anglo-Saxon barbarians who founded England. There are landmarks, place names and aspects of our language which are remnants of Anglo-Saxon paganism. It is from Woden, the god of war, that we take the name for the third day of the week, Wednesday (Woden’s day). There are many places around England named after Woden, like the ancient earthwork of Wansdyke which was probably a cult-centre of the god. In this film, Tom Rowsell, an expert in the paganism of early medieval England, travels around the country looking at places like Wansdyke and talking to people whose lives are influenced by the Anglo-Saxons and their pagan religion. The film features all kinds of peculiar characters; like neo-pagans worshipping Thor in Oxfordshire, the leader of the London Longsword Academy and historical re-enactors who like nothing more than to get dressed up in armour and swing axes at each other.
From Runes to Ruins combines amusing and characterful interviews with informative history all presented with beautiful cinematography and an original and haunting synth soundtrack.
Despite the significance of Anglo-Saxon paganism to the history of Britain, no one has ever made a documentary exclusively on this subject. In this film, Thomas Rowsell reveals a forgotten aspect of English history that many are oblivious to, by uncovering paganism in runes and ruins
This is the story about the families of migrants and Italians facing the crisis with unemployment, high costs of life, and the precarious situation of losing the basic right to housing.
Technically, it’s called “guilty arrearage” and ends in eviction because of the poverty of the inhabitants. In 2013 in Italy 250.000 families risk this to happen to them, that’s an average of 140 evictions a day, almost 6 each hour. In the following years this phenomenon could even be more widespread due to the abolition of public support (“Fondo sostegno affitto nazionale”), which has been helping more than 350.000 families pay their rents. Even as the pressure on housing in the social emergency rise some 5.000 public houses remain empty, waiting to be surveyed and brought up to standard to be inhabited, and that’s just in the city of Milan.
I’ve built a close relation with several families and followed their stories from the notification of eviction to the day itself and being pushed out. Often the police and legal officers prevent me doing my work so I turn my focus to the other aspects of these stories, particulars that can reveal the dramatic experiences going on in these families lives. After the eviction, in fact, some families were rehoused temporarily, others went to cheeap hotels with the support of the municipality, but many others had no other choice than to sleep on the street while they await decisions being made on access to public social housing (which they have right to).
Many stories are focused on women who had only a part time jobs or no job at all, like Letizia, Maria, Cadija, Edy, Pina, Genny and Pina Cortese who we see in my photographs, all struggling to pay their rent, many have lost that battle already.
Cadija is from Morocco, she’s been living in Italy for 8 years. She’s unemployed and has a 17 years-old son. Cadija has already received three eviction notifications. Cadija has not received news of her husband, a Syrian national who went back to his homeland before the war started. She lost her job and now she hopes to received public social housing before eviction day.
Letizia experienced eviction in January. She has a 15 years-old daughter and her part time income does not allow her to pay the full rent. After the eviction she received a small flat to live, thanks to a local community association, but this solution is temporary and she hopes to receive full public social housing soon.
Maria has lost her job recently and was evicted from her home two months ago. Now she’s hosted in an emergency shelter run by a local organization. Edy was evicted last December and has a new born baby girl only a few months old. The society for whom she was working did not pay her salary for many months and in few months time her contract will change from full time to part time so her salary will decrease. Now she is staying at a friend’s apartment.
Pina is living at the first floor of a building without an elevator, she is severly disabled and has received her eviction notice.
Genny is living in the same building. She has no regular job and she has a chiold with special physical needs who can not live with her because of the lack of facilities in the house. She is expecting eviction soon.
Pina Cortese is 28 years old and she works in a shop in the city centre. A local committee of inhabitants protested and halted her eviction for the moment.
There are also stories of people who leave the country they have chosenre-migration to return to their place of birth, because of the lost of job and housing. This is the case for Peppe, a 53 year-old man living in the North of Italy for many years and now returning to Naples because of the loss of his job, the difficulty to find a new one, and the eviction that happened last January.
A similar story is that of a family from Egypt who have been living in Italy for the past 8 years. When Mohamed lost his job and his wife lost her permit to stay because she lost her job too, they decided to return to Egypt, just few days before they were evicted.
The families with many members are the most vulnerable, families of up to 6 often live in a 40 square metre apartment with little or no means to apply to public housing to relocate. The Mauhay family, Arnold, Mardy and their children Adrian, Alessa and Angel, were living in a house in the north of Milan. The building was very badly maintained, the stairs had no lights and the dangerous electric wiring affected their house. After their eviction they are living in a hotel with the support of the municipality.
Valeria and Mario were the guardians of a villa belongiong to a rich family in Milan. After they lost their jobs they found themselves, at the age of 60 unemployed like their two 30-year-old sons. After the eviction they are seeking support from a local organization.
Kumara and Mary are, as many others, victims of the illegal rent black marke). As they are undocumented migrants it is impossible for them to register without permits for a housing contract. When they tried to ask to the house owner to give them a proper lease he increase the rent. They were unable to pay and soon after received an eviction notification. Now Kumara is living in his car, and Mary is hosted in a protection housing with their son, Nathaka.
Flavio, Rosaria and Nancy are a young family. Flavio has no regular job and Rosaria is a teacher with an unstable contract. Two months ago a committee of local residents protested their evicition and won a temporary stay for the family.
The Al Badaui family is composed of Ayman and Abir, Maram, Mariam, Mohamed and the little Samer. Abir does not speak Italian and takes care of the house and family while Ayman works as a cleaner at the airport. When his working hours were reduced he became unable to pay his rent so they received an eviction notification. The committee of residents in their block organized a sit-in and their eviction has been postponed. The family has some chance to receive a public social house, but, as Ayman told me, the solidarity his family has received from the local residents has given them the most support, restoring their strength and their sense of humanity.
For a more selective photo essay, click here: http://www.transterramedia.com/collections/1324
A nice video reportage telling about ancient romans and a group of volunteers doing historical reenactements.
The Mahuay brothers outside of your house
Kumara, Mary and Nathaka Serasinghe used to live in a 40 sq.m. two-room apartment, paying 600 euro for month. Mary is out of work and Kumara is a day laborer in a store in the outskirts of Milan. For legal immigrants, in fact, the registration of the lease is required to obtain residence and renewal of the "residence permit". When they applied for registration of the contract house's to get the "residence permit" of Mary, the owner increased the rent, at which point they are no longer able to pay the rent and arrived the notice of eviction.
The bathroom of the Mauhay family's house.
A building in Milan where six notices of eviction were given to the families residing there. In 2013, 250,000 families are at risk of being evicted in Italy. This is an average of 140 evictions a day. Milan, Italy, July, 2013.
The Mauhay family, including Arnold, Mardy and their children Adrian, Alessa and Angel, were living in a house in the north of Milan. The building was very badly maintained. The stairways had no lights and their was dangerous electric wiring. After their eviction, they are now living in a hotel with the support of the municipality. This is the Mahuay brothers inside the hotel. Milan, Italy, July, 2013.
Mauhay’s two-room apartment. Five of them used to sleep in this room; Adrian, the oldest son, slept in the living room.
Kumara and Mary Serasinghe are from Sri Lanka and they came in Italy eight years ago. They are, as many others, victims of the illegal rent black market. It is estimated that in Italy between 500 thousand and one million apartments are rented in black, resulting in a high tax evasion. For legal immigrants, in fact, the registration of the lease is required to obtain residence and renewal of the residence permit.
Mary and Nathaka Serasinghe were born in Sri Lanka, they met in Milan and married in their native land. Speak little Italian, even if they live here for eight years, and now have a child, Nethaka. Since he was born in the small are list for the allocation of public housing.
Kumara and Nathaka Serasinghe wait as an official hands them eviction documents.
The Serasinghe family are going to the municipality office that deals with the housing project and the evictions.
The Serasinghe family in the metro station after being evicted.
After the eviction, the municipality social service relocated Mary and her son Nathaka to a foster home. The social worker explained that the law is for the protection of the child. This forces them to settle without Mary's husband in the housing.
Mary and Nathaka Serasinghe in a foster home, where only women and children can be accommodated.
Kumara Serasinghe in the car where he is sleeping after he has been evicted.
The rent of the Mauhay family's house amounted to 550 euro for month.
The Mauhay family waiting for the police officers to evict them from their house.
The housing conditions are often unbearable: systems are not compliant with current regulations and masonry are deteriorated, but rents do not seem to decrease.
Mauhay family's kitchen
Alessa Mauhay is seen inside her house during the eviction.
Arnold and Alessa Mauhay the day of your eviction
The stairway of a block of flats totally occupied by migrants. The two-room flats are crumbling down to piaces and not complying with the law. The renting fees are too high for the economic possibilities of the families.
The Mauhay family are going to the municipality office that deals with the housing project and the evictions.
The Mauhay family inside the municipality office.
Arnold Mauhay speaks with a public official and finds out that the municipal committee has accepted his application for public housing.
The Mauhay family are going in a hotel, just after the eviction.
While they are waiting for the Aler (private entity for the management of public housing) to define their position, the municipality of Milan will take over the temporary accommodation in hotel for Mardy and his sons, but Arnold will have to pay for his stay until the final assignment. They are waiting for many months the allocation of public housing.
Wild flowers grows everywhere in the island
After some flora, many birds are also endemic species that can be found only in this island