› Why “Last in line”?
More than 75,000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece in 2019 alone, either by crossing the northern border with Turkey via the Evros River or by crossing the Aegean from Turkey on boats, hoping to land on one of the Greek islands.
About 40% of the asylum seekers are men.
In times of crisis, “vulnerability” has become a key factor in managing and prioritizing the needs of asylum seekers and new arrivals. According to the mandate that the most vulnerable should have priority, the needs of refugee women and children are rightly highlighted and met − to some degree − by humanitarian aid and the state. The differentiation between vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups, however, (as well as the “ethical” dilemma as to who is eligible for assistance or not), create new vulnerabilities and allow groups to emerge from the wider refugee population whose needs are overlooked, and whose needs we do not fully understand.
We intend to investigate and try to better understand the current challenges which a less visible category of refugee and immigrant populations face: that of young male refugees. Our investigation will go back to 2015, when the humanitarian and political crisis in Greece began for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, but we will also take into account the decades preceding when Greece was already a host country for migrant populations.
- What does life have in store for a young man seeking asylum, who is trapped for months on one of the Aegean islands, constantly hearing the word “perímene” (wait) while trying to secure his daily survival?
- How do the smugglers operate? Who are the infamous katsakabar / dar al and how does payment for their services actually work
- What strategies do young men use to survive in their daily lives − young men who are undocumented and often find themselves “off the radar”?
- What’s it like to live in a masafarhana, an apartment you share with up to 20 other men for an unknown period of time?
- What kind of social and emotional relationships do these young men form, and what are the consequences of their long-term marginalization?
- How can lack of legal status and necessary documents lead to labor exploitation, even to extreme forms of violence and abuse?
These are just some of the questions we will try to explore through this Publication.
“Last in Line” attempts to bring young male refugees to the forefront – a demographic category among the refugee population which continues to be marginalized, even though organizations and health professionals active in the field recognize their particular needs and have emphasized that a significant number of them suffer from mental health issues. Many times, as a result of constant exclusion, they fail to obtain and assert even their basic needs.
› How do we develop “Last in Line”?
For the “Last in Line” Publication, we combine field research both on the mainland and on the Aegean islands with the production and publication of rich audiovisual material, data analysis and visualization, men’s stories and portraits, sketches and podcasts.
In an often competitive and introverted media and academic environment, we believe that only collaborative research and interdisciplinary approaches can meet the challenges which currently face our society. For this Publication we aim to blur the lines between fields that appear to have little in common and to fully benefit from their knowledge and processes.
In the coming months all the content (published in Greek and English) will be the result of the cooperation of an experienced team consisting of journalists, photo journalists, anthropologists, artists, filmmakers, translators, and so on.
For this Publication we begin our journey without experts. Our starting point is the common assumption that our shared interest in the subject and cooperation will help us to illuminate aspects that are otherwise not taken into account; aspects which, however, do not suggest an “answer” to the question we ask, but offer the possibility to ask new questions and address new concerns.
› Who are we referring to?
The dominant discourse about male refugees which is put forth by the media, often reinforces negative narratives that portray them as a kind of core threat to the state and to society that must be removed. On the other hand, sympathizers tend to dramatize the situation to such an extent that the entire refugee population is presented as a part of humanity which is totally helpless.
Part of this Publication aims to explore how these representations affect the reality of male refugees, as well as to challenge the dominant narratives which refer to the entire refugee population.
“Last in Line” is not an attempt to compare and contrast the needs of male refugees with those of female refugees. On the contrary, in a framework where the management of the refugee issue is constantly failing and where conditions are becoming increasingly detrimental to the entire population, putting thousands of lives at risk every day, we believe that the failure to understand and highlight one group’s problems can have significant negative effects on other groups.
Therefore, in an attempt to outline the situation which young male refugees experience, we recognize the complexities and conflicts among the different groups of people who cross the border – as well as the officials, the humanitarian groups and other factors. The stories we present here are stories that emerge from these encounters and suggest a complex reality.
In order to approach the subject of our research thoroughly, we take into account all of the various factors that contribute to the story history. From the people who staff international organizations and NGOs , to government officials, to people who work in related fields and academics.
Above all, however, we reach out to the protagonists of this reality: people – whether they’ve arrived in Greece in recent years or whether they’ve lived here for some time – they are the ones who experience the effects of a system that always puts them last in line.
Transparency builds trust. That’s why we share with you how the budget of the “Last in Line” Publication is spent. The budget breaks down into 6 areas of expenditure ranging from contributors’ payments to offline events with the community and travel costs when necessary for the needs of the investigation. The “Last in Line” Publication is currently supported by Independent Journalism Program and Migration and Inclusion Unit of Open Society Foundations.
- Human Resources 75.96% 75.96%
- Administration 9.71% 9.71%
- Travel 4.66% 4.66%
- Equipment 4.38% 4.38%
- Marketing 2.8% 2.8%
- Events 2.49% 2.49%
Meet the team
Born in Larissa in 1993, Ιliana studied Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Ioannina. She completed a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where she also worked as a Greek teacher and a pet sitter for her landlady’s cat. In the past, Iliana also worked at a publishing company selling books at events and for a catering company. She is currently a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at Panteion University. Iliana serves as a writer and coordinator for Last in Line.
Stavros was born in 1992. He worked as a journalist for Inside Story, an independent media site, for three years. He has also contributed to HuffPost Greece and Kanali Ena 90,4 FM. Stavros has also collaborated with Investigate Europe, a European journalists’ network. In 2019, he was selected as a fellow for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence and was trained in data journalism at Columbia University, as a recipient of a Stavros Niarchos Foundation scholarship. Stavros covers migration and the ‘refugee crisis’ and he is responsible for journalistic research for Last in Line.
Fanis is the Founder and Co-Owner of Solomon and serves as the Managing Director of the organization. He has studied Business Administration and Social Entrepreneurship and his professional background includes experience in the fields of journalism, advertising and communications. Fanis is also skilled in photography and video. He serves as the Content Editor for Last in Line.
Gigi was raised in the US, a daughter of Greek immigrants. She graduated from Boston College with a concentration in Education and Modern Greek Studies. As a grant recipient at the University of Athens, she completed further coursework in Greek Studies. In her professional background, Gigi has provided writing, editing, translation and content development services to media and academic sectors, publishing companies and multinational corporations. She’s also taught at a multicultural kindergarten, worked in a restaurant kitchen, interpreted for immigration services at a US airport, sold t-shirts in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, and led meditation & mindfulness classes at a women’s center. Gigi provides English translation for Last in Line.22
Corina was born in 1994, and has lived in Thessaloniki and Athens. She studied Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Athens and attended Columbia University’s program on data journalism as a scholarship recipient of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. She has been working as a journalist since 2016 and covers social justice issues. Currently, she works with VICE Greece and Balkan Insight. Corina has undertaken the analysis and data visualization for Last in Line.
Photographer & Community Relations
Nadir is a board member of Solomon and co-founder of We Need Books, a multicultural library established in 2017. He has extensive experience in the humanitarian field as an interpreter and cultural mediator. He has worked with unaccompanied minors and victims of torture, war and gender-based violence. In 2016, he was assigned by the Ministry of Migration Policy and UNHCR, as the coordinator of the Helliniko refugee camp. Nadir is also a photographer and has been a member of Solomon’s photography team since its establishment in 2016. Nadir provides the photographs for Portraits, a column featured in Last in Line.
Constantinos Stathias is a photographer and a cameraman. He works in filmmaking, the photography direction of short and feature length documentaries, and photojournalism. He has worked with international NGOs such as Greenpeace, MSF, SolidarityNow and Unicef, with news agencies such as CCTV, XINHUA, EXPRESSEN and NIKKEI INC, and has worked on independent productions. Constantinos has teamed up with Angelos to produce the video for Last in Line.
Artist & Anthropologist
Kyra was born in Amsterdam in 1989. She studied Art and Education at the Utrecht School of the Arts and at the Fine Art academy of Barcelona. Recently she obtained a Master’s Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, graduating cum laude. Living between Amsterdam and Athens, Kyra works on a variety of multi-disciplinary projects combining art, anthropology, research and education. For Last in Line, Kyra will contribute visuals to several stories, inspired by fieldwork in Athens and on the island of Lesvos.
Interpreter & Community Relations
Born in Afghanistan and raised in Pakistan, Nasruddin has lived in Athens since 2010. He was a volunteer for Refugees Welcome, a volunteer initiative which matches refugees to flat-sharing accommodation. He has worked as an interpreter, cultural mediator and case worker with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Currently he works for the Greek Council for Refugees and in 2019 he was elected as a board member. In 2017-2018 he was awarded a scholarship in English Studies at Deree, the American College of Greece. In 2016, Nasruddin joined the Solomon team and participated in the first Solomon LAB in journalism. Today he is a board member and Community Relations Officer representing Solomon at international conferences, programs and other public events.