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TUESDAY June 22, 2021: 'MAKE THE GAME' by Le Pictorium photographer Michael Bunel who has spent 10 years covering the migrant crisis in Europe: To get around the wall erected by the government of Hungarian President Viktor Orban, exiles wishing to access Europe are trying their luck, by passing through Romania. Every night, small groups try to slip through the cracks set up by the Romanian authorities. The journeys range from 2 to 15 kilometers depending on the path taken, through woods and fields under cover of darkness. The exiles living in abandoned houses in the village of Majdan tirelessly try to cross the border. Some of them have attempted to cross more than 50 times but hope remains high as they 'Make The Game' as they call it. Until recently most migrants crossing into Europe through the Balkan region went directly from Serbia to Hungary, not through Romania. Since then however, the borders into Croatia and Hungary, which are now heavily policed and fortified with razor-wire, have become largely impenetrable, and many believe that Romania is a better option. Welcome to 'MAKE THE GAME'
© zReportage.com Story of the Week #791: TUESDAY June 22, 2021: 'MAKE THE GAME' by Le Pictorium photographer Michael Bunel who has spent 10 years covering the migrant crisis in Europe: To get around the wall erected by the government of Hungarian President Viktor Orban, exiles wishing to access Europe are trying their luck, by passing through Romania. Every night, small groups try to slip through the cracks set up by the Romanian authorities. The journeys range from 2 to 15 kilometers depending on the path taken, through woods and fields under cover of darkness. The exiles living in abandoned houses in the village of Majdan tirelessly try to cross the border. Some of them have attempted to cross more than 50 times but hope remains high as they 'Make The Game' as they call it. Until recently most migrants crossing into Europe through the Balkan region went directly from Serbia to Hungary, not through Romania. Since then however, the borders into Croatia and Hungary, which are now heavily policed and fortified with razor-wire, have become largely impenetrable, and many believe that Romania is a better option. Welcome to 'MAKE THE GAME'
Its 4AM in the morning, all are walking silently in column one behind the other with almost ten kilometers covered on foot, and everyone is soaked from marching through fields of tall wet grass. Every night, small groups of exiles try to slip illegally across the border unseen by the Romanian authorities.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
The group has already walked one and a half kilometers when it passes in front of the last building illuminated with an artificial light. The rest of the way will be done with the help of the flashlight on mobile phones, while the starry night brings some visibility in spite of the absence of the moon.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A group of migrants wait for the right time to cross the border into Romania. The routes range from 2 to 15 kilometers, depending on the path taken, through woods and fields. The exiles settled in abandoned houses in the village of Majdan, try tirelessly to cross the border. Some of them have tried more than 50 times.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
ELYAAS goes on a search to see if the police or the border guards are patrolling further ahead, while OMAR, ABDELLATIF and AHMED are waiting in a small recess in the middle of the fields. The GPS of the cell phones indicate that they are right on the border between Romania and Serbia.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Walking through tall grass ELYAAS goes on a search to see if the police or the border guards are waiting further ahead. Omar, Abdellatif and Ahmed are waiting in a small recess in the middle of the fields. The GPS of the cell phones indicate that they are right on the border between Romania and Serbia.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A sign on the gate of a house says 'do not enter' announcing that the house is already inhabited with exiles. In the village of Majdan, many abandoned houses serve as shelters for exiles trying to cross the border.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A farmer in the village of Majdan sells milk to migrants who are sheltering at nearby abandoned houses. A liter of milk costs fifty dinars or forty cents.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A Syrian refugee shows his tattoos. He states that he quit fighting for Asad's Syrian regime army and wants to forget the past by building a new life in Europe. 'Make the game' the exiles call it as, every night small groups try to slip across the Romanian border unnoticed.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A moment of joking among friends about the number of times each migrant has tried to cross the border into Romania. Twenty, thirty, even sixty times, some stopped counting.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
LIMAR, a 4 year old Syrian girl, recently arrived in Serbia with her father and uncle inside an abandoned home. Together they will try to sneak past border guards and enter into Europe through Romania.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Exiles inside an abandoned house try to relax with a card game while waiting for the next chance to make an illegal border crossing attempt.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
A young Syrian refugee, 7 years old stands in an abandoned house, which he currently calls home. He has been on the road for 6 months with his father.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Migrants sit together for an evening meal. Since the beginning of Ramadan, the food is divided collectively between the houses. Some cook the potatoes, some the rice, and others take care of the bread. Around eight o'clock everyone collects their dishes and it is time to break the fast.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Two exiles try to connect several chargers on a system arranged to recover electricity inside a abandoned house where they are sheltering between attempts to cross the border.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Exiles laundry hangs to dry in one of the corridors of an occupied house. As they wait for an opportunity to cross the border, migrants occupy abandoned hoses near the Romanian border.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Local cab drivers pick up Eritrean exiles to take them to a border location that is supposed to guarantee a successful crossing, with a car waiting on the Romanian side. The price of a crossing is between 3500 and 6000 euros.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Exiles huddle in a field at sunrise and prepare to try and cross the Romanian border illegally.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Refugees walk in the night to try to cross the border between Serbia and Romania. Every night, small groups try to slip through the net set up by the Romanian authorities.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
ELYAAS has to look at the path on google maps for the hundredth time. Few words are exchanged. Everyone fills their water bottles and adjusts their clothes and backpacks before the ten kilometer walk to the Romanian border.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Refugees walk in the night to try to cross the border between Serbia and Romania. Every night, small groups try to slip through the net set up by the Romanian authorities, trekking from 2 to 15 kilometers, depending on the path taken, through woods and fields.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Border guards and surveillance towers keep watch along the Hungarian border, near Subotica (Serbia). Turrets, barriers, barbed wire and patrols driving around in cars are weapons of deterrence.
© Michael Bunel/Le Pictorium via ZUMA Press
Le Pictorium Photographer Michael Bunel

Le Pictorium Photographer Michael Bunel specializes in reportage and covers French and international news. He covered Calais and on the migration crisis in Europe since 2015; he traveled to Turkey to cover demonstrations in Taksim Square, to Gaza during the ''March of Return'' and to Ukraine to follow the armed insurgency of separatists in the Donbass. He has published two books, ''Believe in 9.3'', which follows a year of reporting on the Catholic faith in Seine-Saint-Denis, and his second book, EXIL, at CDP Editions on exiles fleeing wars and misery. Michael's work is represented by Le Pictorium/ZUMA and he is available for assignments via ZUMA Press.:791



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