As the civil war in Syria gets worse, day by day, the number of refugees constantly increases. Greece is the entrance point for Syrian refugees who try to reach Europe. Nowadays 80 percent of the refugees coming to Greece are from Syria.

Unfortunately, many of them never complete their trip. They drown in the Mediterranean sea.

In September 2014, a small boat with 49 Syrian refugees crossed the sea borders between Turkey and Greece. It was around 5 a.m. when the Greek Coast Guard identified a small boat floating towards Chios, a small island in the Aegean. It was easy to understand that the man in charge of the boat had no experience. At some point he took a dangerous twist trying to direct the boat towards an uninhabited island, Inousa, where only a Greek military outpost is based. The passengers were very scared and they refused the help of the Greek Coast Guard. They didn’t know exactly where they were. When the boat approached the Coast Guard ship, the refugees screamed. One of them held up a 4-month-old baby, asking the officers to not hurt their boat. Despite the attempts of the Greek Coast Guard officers, the small boat reached the uninhibited island. Its passengers disappeared into the morning fog.

I went after them, following the Greek officers. After long negotiations, the refugees understood that this deserted place had no food or water to offer them. I followed them back to the Coast Guard ship and documented their first days in Chios.

—Enri Canaj


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