PHOTOS: Migration crisis - 'Obstacle course to Europe'

All uses photos from new MSF report detailing the humanitarian impact of EU response to migration

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 — A report released this week by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) ‘Obstacle course to Europe’ has described 2015 as the year that Europe catastrophically failed to address the Mediterranean sea crisis, and whose restrictive and cruel policies in fact actively contributed to the worsening of the crisis, causing untold suffering.

The following selection of 32 photos were taken by dedicated photographers who tracked the terrifying journeys of people over sea and land throughout 2015.

This selection includes powerful images from Italian photographer Alessandro Penso, recently selected for TIME’s Photo Story of the Year for his extensive coverage of the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe. 

Alessandro approached MSF early in 2015 on wanting to focus on this topic. We collaborated with him throughout the year, in the places where MSF was providing relief. He joined our staff in the reception centres in Greece, followed traumatised migrants and refugees deep into the Balkans, and sailed aboard MSF’s joint-sea rescue boats across the Mediterranean. 

Photographer: Sophie-Jane Madden<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees in the Gramde Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk, France, contend with deplorably bad conditons in the camp with mud, flooding and a lack of sanitation. Authorities have imposed a ban on humanitarian agencies bring in any building materials or any extra comfort items such as blankets despite the desparate conditions and deteriorating health of the inhabitants.
Photographer: Vickie Hawkins<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees in the Gramde Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk, France, contend with deplorably bad conditons in the camp with mud, flooding and a lack of sanitation. Authorities have imposed a ban on humanitarian agencies bring in any building materials or any extra comfort items such as blankets despite the desperate conditions and deteriorating health of the inhabitants.
Photographer: Will Rose<br/><br/>Caption:  Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Greenpeace boat crews responded to an emergency on December 16 as a wooden refugee boat capsized about mile and a half off the coast of Lesbos. On arrival to the scene all refugees were in the water and a major rescue operation involving Greenpeace, MSF, Frontex, Sea Watch and Proactiva ensued. A total of 83 people were rescued, while two people drowned - an 80-year-old man and nine
Photographer: Alex Yallop<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria wait to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia at Idomeni.
Photographer: Alex Yallop<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria wait to cross the border from Idomeni, Greece into Macedonia.
Photographer:  Alex Yallop<br/><br/>Caption: Graffiti sprayed onto a tent in support of the several thousand people have been stranded in at the Greek/Macedonia border unable to cross due to nationality restrictions put in place by several Balkan nations. At a makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece near the border with Macedonia.
Photographer: Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Nigerian women aboard the ship, Bourbon Argos shortly after a rescue in the Mediterranean Sea by Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Photographer:  Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Irene a medical coordinator with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says goodbye to refugees and migrants as they disembark the Bourbon Argos and are transferred to a Norwegian vessel.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola<br/><br/>Caption: On board the Bourbon Argos following a rescue in the Mediterranean. The refugees will be taken to Italy.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola<br/><br/>Caption: A refugee is numbered by the Italian authorities as people disembark the Bourbon Argos in Vibo Valentina, Calabria, Italy and queue to be registered.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola <br/><br/>Caption: On board the Bourbon Argos following a rescue in the Mediterranean. The refugees will be taken to Italy.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola<br/><br/>Caption: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Line Lootens entertains a small child on board the Bourbon Argos following a rescue in the Mediterranean The refugees will be taken to Italy.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola<br/><br/>Caption:  26th August 2015. A young child is lifted from a boat containing approximately 650 people by Sebastian Stein (Doctors Without Borders / MSF Coordinator) during a rescue in the Mediterranean Sea
Photographer: Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees take shelter during a rain storm as they wait to be registered at the Moria Reception Centre in Lesbos, Greece.
Photographer: Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: An Afghan refugee wears a rubbish bag to keep himself dry during a rainstorm at the Moria Reception Centre while he waits for his documents on the island of Lesbos.
Photographer: Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees and migrans walk along a muddy path, lined with rubbish as they wait to be registered at the Moria Reception Centre in Lesbos, Greece.
Photographer: Achilleas Zavallis<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees and migrants wait on the Serbian side of the Bapska border crossing hoping to enter Croatia.
Photographer: Achilleas Zavallis<br/><br/>Caption: Portrait of an extended family from Idleb, Syria (left to right)<br/>Leen (4) sits on the shoulders of her uncle Obaida (31), Abdullah (14), Wallied (5), Mohammed (29), Bayan (18), Suha (32), while they wait on the Serbian side of the Sid - Tovarnik border crossing to enter Croatia.
Photographer: Juan Carlos Tomasi<br/><br/>Caption: MSF is working in Croatia, in a transit camp near the border with Serbia (in Tovarnik) where refugees spend a day before being transferred to Hungary. In the camp, which hosts around 5000 people daily, MSF has opened up a clinic while it conducts mobile clinics at the border when needed and depending of the influx of refugees attempting to cross the border from Serbia. Medical teams are seeing patients with small traumas and wounds, respiratory infections (especially amongst children) and pregnant women.
Photographer: Borja Ruiz Rodriguez<br/><br/>Caption: A disabled man crosses the border with his friends at Idomeni. He came to the border, carried on the back of one of his friends. He has no legs but was unable to bring his wheelchair on the boat with him when they came from Turkey to Greece.
Photographer: Georgios Makkas<br/><br/>Caption: Six year old Mohammed, together with his mother from Iraq is given a health check by the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) doctor Dimitris Giannousis at the mobile clinic in Mytiline port, Lesbos, Greece.
Photographer: Anna Surinyach<br/><br/>Caption: The Dignity I team conduct a rescue of people from a large, overcrowded, inflatable boat 02 September 2015, in the Mediterranean sea.
Photographer: Francesco Zizola<br/><br/>Caption: 26th August 2015. A boat containing approximately 650 people is rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Bourbon Argos and taken to Sicily, Italy.
Photographer: Fransesco Zizola <br/><br/>Caption: 26th August 2015. A boat containing approximately 650 people is rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Bourbon Argos and taken to Sicily, Italy.
Photographer: Christophe Stramba-Badiali<br/><br/>Caption: 533 people sleep on the deck of the Borbon Argos after being rescued at sea by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Mediterranean.
Photographer: Anna Surinyach<br/><br/>Caption: 87 people, mainly from Senegal and Gambia rescued by the Dignity I, wait on the deck to be transferred to an Italian vessel that will take them to Sicily.
Photographer: Julie Remy<br/><br/>Caption: Syrian woman (Kurdish from Aleppo), 7 months-pregnant at the Tutin Asylum Centre in Serbia. From Greece to Montenegro we walked for 35 hours. We have been told by the smugglers that it will be only a 2-hours walk and that the rest will be by car. They said it will take 6 hours from Greece. We did not have enough water or enough food with us. We slept in caves, in forests… We drank the only water we could find and could only see in the morning light how dirty it was. Fortunately nobody got sick but our feet hurt. After 48 hours we tried to take our shoes off and we did not manage, they were stuck to our feet. The same for our clothes… I think I could have died without the help of my friends. There was no way to go back so we had to continue. We had to choose between death or suffering. They carried me through even if I was slowing the whole group down. Because we were too slow, we were harassed by the mafia. They asked us for more money… We paid because they were stopping us and we were afraid to be separated from the rest of the group. If I had known before, I never would have started the journey. We have been told by people we know who went ahead of us to avoid Macedonia because it was too difficult, that’s why we chose the Albanian border. I am worried for my baby’s health. I am afraid he will be deformed due to the journey. My friends say I have to call him “muddy baby”. I saw a doctor in Montenegro. We asked a taxi to drive us to a doctor to check if the baby was OK. When we arrived at the clinic they shouted at us. They asked us to go away. Finally the doctor accepted to see me and did an echography. He said “baby ok, now go away”, that’s all. I don’t know anything else.
Photographer: Georgios Makkas<br/><br/>Caption: Syrian refugees use empty cans to boil water make tea in Kara Tepe camp.
Photographer: Alex Yallop<br/><br/>Caption: Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria wait to cross the border from Idomeni, Greece into Macedonia.
Photographer:  Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Syrians who have just landed on the Greek island of Kos burn their life jackets for warmth and also to attract the attention of the police. This group of Syrians arrived on relatively remote and inaccessible part of the island at night and not knowing what to do, they light the fire to attract the attention of the coast guard.
Photographer: Alessandro Penso<br/><br/>Caption: Idomeni. Greece. An Afghan who is around 20 years old on the border of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). 'My name is Ayoub, I am 18 years old and I come from Afghanistan. My whole family was killed when I was very young, so I grew up with my uncle. When I was eleven, he was killed too. I then fled to Iran, where I knew some friends. I have walked thousands of kilometres to get here and have used up three pairs of shoes. I only carry a sleeping bag, a few small belongings, something to drink, and something to eat. I must go to Europe, they must help us. In Afghanistan there is no security. Every day people die there.'