The Game - Preface

The Game is part of an on-going multimedia project that explores specific aspect of migrants’ daily life along the European borders. The goal is to explore life in refugee and transit centers, squats, and in the 'jungle' (the woods), by showing the daily practices used by migrants in order to survive extreme physical and psychological conditions. At the same time project would investigates the systems of surveillance used by authorities - such as the technical equipment, training and volunteer citizens groups that join police in order to patrol the borders - and the effects in migrants' body and psyche and violation of human rights these policies produce.

‘The Game’ is the phrase used by migrants to refer to the dangerous trip across the Balkan Route. Independently of their origins and native tongues, all migrants use this English expression. They all attempt to cross the Balkan borders, walking or hidden in trains and trucks, up to fifteen or twenty times in a year, taking risky, multiple chances, like in a game. More often than not, the police takes them back to their departure point, often after having physically and psychologically abused them. The guards send dogs to rip them apart, push them to walk barefoot in the snow, beat them, destroy their mobile phones, and seize their money and the few items they carry. Abuses are widely documented by the international NGOs that every day give medical support to migrants.

Although the so called Balkan Route has been declared officially closed by Frontex and the EU authorities, hundreds of migrants are still using it to reach the EU countries. They mainly come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and North Africa through Turkey and Greece but even Cuba. After crossing Bulgaria or Macedonia, they remain blocked in Serbia for an indefinite time. Their wish is to cross Hungary or Croatia, but the borders to both countries are massively militarized, making the passage particularly arduous. Migrants live in a physical and psychological limbo, waiting up to two years the opportunity to reach other European countries.