Refugee crisis: In Serbia, every shoe has a story

By Masuma Ahuja, CNN
Fri October 23, 2015

Footwear -- or lack thereof -- tells the refugee story in Berkasovo, Serbia, on Tuesday, October 20.

Footwear — or lack thereof — tells the refugee story in Berkasovo, Serbia, on Tuesday, October 20.

New York (CNN)About 10,000 refugees are in Serbia, according to recent reports. They face harsh conditions — freezing temperatures and a shortage of aid and shelter.

Marko Risovic, a photographer from the capital of Belgrade, has been at the border between Croatia and Serbia to capture a piece of the long journey that thousands of migrants from the war-torn Middle East are making.

“This kind of story is very hard to show. It’s a very big story,” Risovic said. The “simple details,” he said, ” can tell you a lot about the condition, the emotional message.”

The details he focused his lens on were the shoes — sneakers, trash bags, improvised footwear — that refugees wore.

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“All the shoes have a different story,” Risovic said, “Shoes were torn apart by long walking or by the circumstances or conditions at the border crossing.”

Taking photos of shoes allowed Risovic to tell the stories of migrants while overcoming communication barriers and hesitations of his subjects.

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“It’s hard to communicate with many of them because they speak Arabic,” Risovic said, “Some of them are afraid of showing their faces and being photographed.”

But no one had anything against him taking photographs of their muddy and worn shoes.

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October 20, 2015. Long lines have formed on Croatia’s border with Serbia. Photo by Marko Risovic for CNN.

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Follow CNN on Instagram to see the full series of Risovic’s photos.

How you can help in the migrant crisis:
Catholic Relief Services
Concern Worldwide
International Federation of the Red Cross Europe
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Medical Teams International (MTI)
Mercy Corps
Migrant Offshore Aid Station
Samaritan’s Purse

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