Since the beginning of last year, more than a million asylum seekers, about half fleeing war and starvation in Syria, have attempted to reach Europe by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greek islands such as Lesbos and Chios. Despite the dangers of traversing the heavily policed waters on crowded inflatable rafts, landing on Greek shores has been the surest route to refugee status in Europe. Once they arrive, asylum seekers are housed in camps like Moria, on Lesbos, while they wait to receive refugee status and find out if they can move farther into Europe.
This March, in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees to the Continent, the EU and Turkey reached a deal designed to cut off the Aegean route. In a move that humanitarian groups argue violates international law, Europe's border agency began sending asylum seekers entering Europe through the Greek islands back to Turkey. The gate to Europe relied on by so many has been effectively closed. (In exchange, Turkish citizens were promised visa-free travel in Europe and a resumption of EU membership talks.) In January, photographer Elliot Ross in collaboration with a team of documentary filmmakers from Magna Carta traveled to meet some of the last asylum seekers entering Europe through the Greek islands.
To see a trailer of Magna Carta's Refuge, a documentary chronicling human stories focused on humanity and hope from the European Refugee Crisis, please visit their site.