Europe Look Me In The Eyes is an initiative led by activists on the Greek island of Lesvos who want to raise awareness among citizens through art about the need to change European policies about migration and asylum. Thousands of people who were forced to flee war and persecution in their countries, have arrived to the hotspots on the Greek islands and other refugee camps in Europe, only to find the same or even worse living conditions from those which they left behind.
Europe Look Me In The Eyes started in Lesvos but as soon as it was echoed by groups across the continent, it rapidly expanded beyond the island. It’s aim is to put pressure on European governments to finally take concrete action, make decisions and implement policies that are of real benefit to refugees .
We believe this can be achieved by closing the hotspots and replacing them with registration centers for temporary accommodation where displaced people can apply for asylum and be offered decent living conditions according to their rights. Timely decisions should be made about asylum applications based on legal obligations established by the 1951 Geneva Convention. Greek and European leaders should respect the law and safeguard the democratic values enshrined in international conventions and national legislations. Laws and humanity should prevail.
The violation of basic human rights such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence is not only illegal, but immoral. Sadly, the rights we are all born with, are not afforded to refugees upheld in camps all over the world and in Europe.
Seeking protection and asylum in Europe has turned even more difficult since Europe started delegating control of its borders to third countries like Turkey, Libya, and Morocco. Europe and the rest of the world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this humanitarian crisis, nor deny its responsibility through providing those countries with charitable contributions.
Europe Look Me In The Eyes is a collective call to awareness from Lesvos and cities across Europe. It shows women, men, and children on the move who agreed to share their faces, raise their voices, and act as a human spotlight on the harsh reality they’re living across the European borders and beyond. Behind these faces are human stories; stories of ruthless and illegal pushbacks, long-term oppression, and danger; fear of disease, rape, abuse, and human trafficking in overcrowded refugee camps; inhumane sanitary conditions, death from freezing or heat, and risk of deportation to war-torn countries. Europe, can you look them in the eyes?
These are people like you and me. Europe, can you look them in the eyes?
Photos taken by : Coline Marteret, Fellipe Lopes, Frederike Droessler, Frederic de La Houssaye, Inès Musso and Villy Tentoma.