All photos by Grey Hutton
This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.
A narrative seems to have emerged around smartphones in the ongoing refugee crisis. Many of those who oppose mass immigration and the opening of European borders to those in need have singled out this particular piece of technology and used it to essentially say: "Look—these people have snazzy phones, therefore they must have loads of money, so why are they coming here?"
This opinion, objectively, is ludicrous. Firstly, you don't need to be loaded to own a phone. Secondly, and most importantly, the reason the majority of refugees currently traipsing through Europe has nothing to do with money; it has to do with the fact that their countries are ravaged by war and their homes have either been destroyed or are uninhabitable.
However, the phone thing is still managing to spread throughout social media in the form of ignorant status updates and hateful (and unfounded) memes.
We asked some refugees who'd recently arrived in Berlin to explain what their phones meant to them. For some, their worth lay in storing photographs of the homes they've lost and the loved ones they've let behind; others were simply using them for practical things like navigating rickety boats towards Europe. Each refugee seemed to connect differently with their phone, but one thing they all had in common was that they were terrified of losing theirs.
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