A desperate journey to a fate unknown

Photographer Lucy Kafanov travels with exhausted refugees as they cross four borders en route to northern Europe.

Lucy Kafanov | | Humanitarian crises, Refugees, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia

Idomeni, Greece - Since the start of this year, hundreds of thousands of desperate people - most seeking refuge from bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - have made a perilous trek via the so-called Balkans route into the heart of Europe.

They travel for thousands of miles by boat, train and on foot in search of a better life and refuge from violence in what has been described as the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

For many, the journey begins in Turkey, where they are forced to pay smugglers thousands of dollars for a spot on an overcrowded rubber dinghy that will transport them across choppy seas to one of Greece’s eastern islands. It is a terrifying and often dangerous journey. More than 2,600 people have died at sea this year.

From Greece, they move through Macedonia and Serbia before entering Hungary and migrating to wealthier countries in northern Europe. The United Nations estimates that 3,000 migrants a day are pouring into the Balkans and heading to other destinations in Europe.

The refugees have no way of knowing what fate awaits them in Europe, but many say staying in their war-torn homelands would likely mean death.

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