Stuck in the Doorway

We all saw this on our TVs

Few images of the past decade have been as gripping as those coming out of Greece in the summer and fall of 2015, as waves of refugees struggled to arrive on the shores of Europe.  The whole world watched as over one million refugees crossed into Europe that year. An astounding 856,000 refugees entered through Greece, the vast majority hoping to reach northern Europe.

For weeks, an unbroken river of humanity stretched from Greece as far north as Sweden.

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Then the door slammed shut

Eastern European governments reacted by closing their borders. Barbed wire and army patrols replaced the famously open borders of the European continent. Then, following a complex multilateral agreement between Turkey and the European Union, the door was finally and completely slammed shut at the Greek border, and tens of thousands of refugees were left with no way forward.

So they wait…

Stuck In The Doorway will examine the impact these guests are having on their new home and explore the difficulties the refugees are encountering. We will visit three camps (each with different approaches and administration, one run by the prefecture of Sterea Ellada in central Greece, one administered by the UNHCR, and one run cooperatively by Greeks and the refugees themselves) as well as visiting families who have been resettled in homes. We will focus on the new relationships being formed and how problems are and aren’t being addressed. In addition to speaking with refugees and volunteers, we will be filming interviews with NGO representatives, institutions, organizations, politicians, educators and administrators tasked with dealing with providing infrastructure, integration and educational services.

The Greeks are legendary for their hospitality (philoxenia in the Greek language, translated as friendship to guests, or love for foreigners/strangers) but these numbers have put huge strains on the already struggling economy. With austerity has come unemployment, economic activity has slumped, businesses have closed and millions of pensioners have lost their old-age support. In the middle of all this, 63,000 refugees, with no other options available to them, are faced with the realization that Greece may be their new home. Early in the 20th century, 1.5 million refugees settled in Greece by crossing these same waters, but these were ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor and shared the Orthodox faith. Today’s refugees are facing different challenges, as are their Greek hosts.

GALLERY

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