Photographers' Blog

Seeking refuge in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

By Cathal McNaughton

Gaining the trust of asylum seekers I met in Sweden and taking pictures that would grab the viewer’s attention and convey the tremendous struggles and dangers they had faced was a challenge.

They were scared and suspicious and in most cases had family back in their homeland who were in danger.

As a photojournalist, the last thing I want to do is compromise someone’s life for a photograph, but I also needed to tell these people’s stories.

They wanted me to tell their stories too. Pictures speak a thousand words however, in this case, I needed people to read my subjects’ words.

Here we were at an asylum centre in the tranquil surroundings of a stately home deep in the Swedish countryside, yet these people had endured perilous journeys and paid smugglers thousands of euros to get here.

Afghan refugees – Seeking sanctuary

Brussels, Belgium

By Francois Lenoir

It was a cold, wet morning when I passed through the doors of the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage, a grand 17th century building in the center of Brussels.

Inside, children were playing and shouting in the large, dark hall, which was lined with rows and rows of tents. I had not just entered a church – I was inside people’s homes. The building had become a very private space.

Saint John the Baptist’s is occupied by a group of Afghan migrants, who have been living there for more than three months. Their first asylum request was refused by the authorities and they were told to leave Belgium, but some ended up travelling around the county aimlessly and were left squatting in unoccupied buildings.