Trapped between

two shores

Tales of refugee and migrant voyages

to the Greek island of Lesbos

Produced in partnership with Contrast VR

The refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean reached epic proportions in 2015. But years later, the nightmare isn't over. Tens of thousands of people who traveled by sea to reach Greece are in limbo – unable to start the next phase of their journey, and unable to fully leave the past behind. We spoke with refugees and asylum seekers at Kara Tepe camp. Here are some of their stories.

“They forced me with a gun ...
I didn’t have any choice to go back."
Jalal walked from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran, then Turkey, where he took a boat to Lesbos. During the journey, he was most worried about his nieces and nephews who were in the boat with him. He currently volunteers at Kara Tepe camp with other refugees and asylum seekers.
“When we arrived, we were somewhere
between life and death.”
Rena is Palestinian–Syrian, and was living in Yarmouk camp in Damascus with her family before the war forced her to flee. One of her sons has severe mental disabilities. They're currently trying to get to Germany to find treatment for him.
“I was afraid, I thought we might drown.
In another minute, we'll drown.”
Shehab is 10 years old and living in Kara Tepe camp with his family. His father was a policeman back in Afghanistan, but the Taliban targeted him and threatened to kill his family, so they fled the country. Shehab has aspirations to be a doctor one day.
“It's like I'm sinking in the boat – many
times I’m dreaming about that.”
Bishnu is an asylum seeker and a volunteer for Humanitarian Support Agency, an international NGO. Shortly after his arrival in Greece in 2016, he started volunteering: cooking and distributing clothing and food around camp. It’s safe to say he loves helping others.
“Are we going to stay in Greece,
or are they going to deport us to Turkey? ...
We don't know our fate.”
At 60 years old, Abdul, as he told us he wanted to be called, is frustrated with the stagnant situation at the Kara Tepe camp and feels like European governments aren't doing enough to address the refugees' plight — he doesn't have time to wait around.