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John Minchillo November 2, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Greece.

Sudanese Refugees, Patras Greece 2010

John Minchillo (b. 1985, United States) received his bachelors degrees in English Literature and Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University. A lifelong passion for storytelling led him to print journalism with local newspapers. Shortly afterwards he began photographing his stories and found his voice in imagery. He has attended the Eddie Adams Workshop Barnstorm 24, and is regularly published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, TIME Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, USA Today, Newsweek, and many others. He lives in New York City freelances with the Associated Press.

About the Photograph:

“I wanted to tell the story of refugees in the EU when my colleague suggested Patras, a port city in Greece known for harboring massive shipping vessels. Greece is the middle man for dealing with refugees in the EU. Official protocol states all illegal immigrants found in the EU must be deported to the original country of entry. Greece, with its land border with Turkey, is the main thoroughfare. With nowhere to go, and Greece’s economy in free fall, these refugees found themselves living in abandoned rail yards.”

“I tried to make a photo that shows these men, stuck in circumstances wildly beyond their control, as more than some forgotten, cursed people. They want to be better men and husbands, live better, and achieve. Many speak several languages. Some are teachers, others mechanics, many businessmen. Their families are far away. They left home in search of opportunity to be caught in a socio-political nightmare with no escape, to home or anywhere else. They try for years to covertly board massive shipping vessels behind barbed wire and fences, often risking their lives by climbing up hundred-foot high docking cables, in hopes of making it to the Netherlands for a chance at a new life. And in the process they are caught by authorities, beaten, jailed, and released into the cycle again. No matter the crushing poverty, disdain from locals, and the inability to work legally, they maintain a place to wash, eat, sleep, and take time for a simple things, like a haircut. They maintain powerful but quiet dignity. I believe in my heart that they are no different from me, and despite living in a vermin infested rail yard, with comfortable looking homes overlooking their difficult state of affairs, they keep hope alive.”