Athens Ghetto

PhotographerNikos Pilos
PrizeBronze in Press / Feature Story
Entry Description

The once historic center of Athens, has slowly but steadily turned into a region of poverty, race conflict, drug use and trafficking. This report that lasted almost a month walking among some of the poorest and disreputable neighborhoods in Athens, portrays the harsh life of Greeks and foreigners alike, be it in line at the kitchen soup that is funded by the municipality of Athens and the church, or down in the streets where the cartons that accommodate the homeless multiply day by day. Meanwhile, the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants continues to flood the city center with people, who are essentially trapped because the state cannot or will not accommodate, legalize or formally absorb them into the workforce, forcing them to lead a life in squalor, either by sharing a small space in an old industrial building that�s been turned into an illegal hotel, by working illegally for Greeks or other foreigners for a petty wage, or by being engulfed by the gangs that swarm the city. In this ill environment, delinquency is in constant rise, with drug trafficking happening in every corner, followed by prostitution, theft and violence. The local and foreign criminal networks that have spread in the city streets plague almost every activity and illegal trade is a common sight in certain spots. The police, while retaining a strong presence in the city center, seem unable to control the situation. Attacks on citizens with the intent of theft and incidents of burglary in shops around the center are an everyday theme of the daily life, discouraging from people walking the streets especially at night, automatically turning the region slowly but steadily into a ghetto swarmed by gangs and drug traffickers. Extremist groups of the far right take advantage of the situation to portray their racist ideas by attacking immigrants and sparking social distress. In May, the violent murder of a Greek man to steal his camera, triggered an unprecedented outrage from extremists who patrol the streets day and night to spot and hunt down illegal immigrants, as revenge. The murder of a Bangladeshi man a few days later is suspected to be linked to the immigrant pogrom. laif/for stern and Kappa magazine

About Photographer

Nikos Pilos was born in Corfu, Greece, in 1967. He studied graphic arts and since then he worked with some of the most popular Greek dailies, like Kathimerini, Vima, Eleftherotypia and also in weekly magazines like K (published by Kathimerini) and E (published by Eleftherotypia). From 2001 onwards, he works with the international agencies Taiga Press (France), E-Lance (Germany) Sipa press (France) Zuma Press (U.S.A.). Since his first assignment in Lebanon at 1988 and the coverage of Nicolae Ceausescu overthrow the next year in Romania, he has worked in countries like Yugoslavia, Albania, Macedonia, Georgia, Russia, Germany, Portugal, Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, Kosovo,Iraq (where he spent 100 days) etc. Photos of his have been published in magazines like Newsweek, Stern, Focus, Bild, The Independent, Panorama, The New York Times, Washington Post, Herald Tribune, Gente etc. His work has been exhibited in ULISphotoFEST2007 in Istanbul, Turkey, Photokina in Cologne, Germany (2006), Photosynkyria in Thessalonica, Greece (2002, 2006), Gallery 55 (2005).,Athens photofestival 2007-2008, Tops â?? Word Photojournalism Festival China, 2008, Justina et pax Europa, European Council, Brussels â?? Belgium 2009, etc. In 2005 he was awarded (Special Mention) Unicefâ??s Photo Of The Year competition, for his work covering the earthquake in Pakistan. He is a founding member of the Greek Photojournalistâ??s Association.