Travel

All the Stuff Syrian Refugees Leave Behind During Their Journey to Europe

Luis de Vega photographed everything he found on the side of the road at the border between Hungary and Serbia.

by Luis Vega
Sep 22 2015, 1:50pm

This article originally appeared on VICE Spain

I arrived at Hungary's border with Serbia in early September. The area surrounding the village of Röszke, where I stayed for a few days, had recently become a hotspot in a migration route that starts in Greece and leads to Central Europe. Thousands of people pass through Röszke every day and—judging by the interviews I conducted there—most of them come from Syria.

Walking down the railroad tracks next to some of them, it struck me that I could tell the stories of these refugees without showing their faces. Instead, I thought, photographing all the things they left behind could illustrate all that they're giving up in their journey for refuge.

As a photojournalist, I've spent the past decade covering routes of migration into Europe, but mostly those starting in Africa. What struck me in this case were the actual objects I found scattered between Hungary and Serbia: plush toys, medicine, boat tickets, sanitary products, food, and clothing—all things you'd never find abandoned on the side of the street in poor countries like Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, or Morocco.

While a vocal opposition are keen to portray refugees as a faceless mass of economic migrants invading Europe to snatch up all the jobs, perhaps these photos help to demonstrate that many are the exact opposite—that they're people with purchasing power simply looking for protection.