Migration Media Award: Second Place, Print Category, English
Author: Eleanor Ross
Date of Publication: 22/4/2016
Title: What It’s Like to Raise Kids in a Refugee Camp
Short summary: I chose to submit this feature because I wrote it when the world was panicking about the impact of migrants on Europe. At the time, TV screens were full of young men knocking down fences, but I wanted to look at the emotional trauma many migrants faced in refugee camps in Greece. I self-funded a trip to Ritsona on the Greek mainland, where I knew there were many trapped families waiting for passage to the rest of Europe. I visited just after news came that the border was shut, so I experienced the frustration, and restlessness of the children living there. Difficulties encountered during production included an unwillingness by the Greek authorities to let me visit any of the camps as a freelancer. I was allowed to only visit a ‘model’ camp — compared to Skaramagas, and other camps that colleagues had visited, Ritsona felt fresh and well-ordered. It frustrated me that I was unable to give a balanced report from a number of different camps. To make up for this, I also spent some time in the port of Piraeus, where a number of refugees who didn’t want to go into the camps, (and had avoided the controversial clearance of the port), had been stationed. I spoke to families there, who told me how frustrated they were at not being able to move on, despite having family scattered around Europe. Six months earlier, I had walked with refugees from Hungary’s Keleti station to the Austrian border, and understood how families became separated on their journey.
Samaa fled the Syrian war for Lebanon’s Shatila refugee camp, where she has lived for almost half a decade with her four children. She’s one of thousands of women left stranded by the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.