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refugee

Map by Jenn Boggs

Paths to Refuge

A special project on Europe's migration crisis, on both the perilous journey and life inside the destination. A story of assimilation, of the bureaucratic limbo, of strangers in a strange land settling into something more awkwardly, unexpectedly permanent.

Of Sanctuary, Refuge, Migrants, and Refugees

At the end of 2015, according to statistics gathered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes—displaced by war, famine, ethnic strife, religious violence, poverty, climate change. Of them, 21.3 million were classified as refugees, 4.9 million from Syria alone. And of all those 21.3 million, only 107,100 were resettled elsewhere that same year—a tiny fraction of a huge population in flight.

Photo by Alex Potter

The New Berliners

On a chilly April morning in 2016, at a newly converted shelter in southern Berlin, Om Belal struggled as she maneuvered her ten-year-old son, Jad, in his wheelchair out the building’s front door.

Milad Ahkabyar's hand-drawn map of his family's route from Afghanistan to Germany. The journey cost them $26,000, which they raised through selling their home, their livestock, jewelry, whatever they could.

Milad’s Arrival

He doesn’t know his birthday, exactly, because the Gregorian calendar is still a puzzle. But he knows his age, more or less, and he knows where he hails from—a village near Ghazni, Afghanistan, which he visits in dreams now and then. Milad Ahkabyar and his family fled their village in the fall of 2015 to escape persecution from the Taliban.