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without borders

'Fourteen kilometres separate life from death': Award-winning photographer captures the trials of refugee life

Marcos Moreno’s work is going on show in Dublin until November.

A MAN SWIMMING for his life; women huddled together at a border; men washing in the snow – award-winning photojournalist Marco Moreno has captured them all while following the lives of refugees.

During the past few years, Moreno has travelled to photograph life at refugee camps in Belgrade; witnessed people fleeing for their lives across the Strait of Gibraltar; and watched people do whatever it takes to survive at the Spanish-Moroccan border.

As Instituto Cervantes Dublin presents his first solo exhibition in Ireland, Moreno gave us the back story to some of his most striking images.

Strait of Gibraltar

002 Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“Fourteen kilometres separate life from death. These people risk their lives crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to try and reach Europe and find work to help their families back home.”

004 Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“When your strength fails you, when you feel you’re slipping away and it’s all is over, when hope hangs on one last breath, you cling to life.”

Ceuta, Spanish-Moroccan border

07 marcos moreno Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“Bent under heavy loads in all weathers, like beasts of burden, they spend hours waiting to enter Morocco where the owners of their merchandise await, increasing their wealth at the expense of these women.”

012 Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“Carrying packages that weigh between fifty and eighty kilos, not knowing the contents of their load, marked with numbers or drawings to identify their owner who is waiting across the border. Sometimes, between the rushing and pushing, their lives are trampled under their own weight.”

Belgrade, Serbia

Refugees Belgrade Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“The look on this young Afghan’s face is a cruel reminder of the uncertain future he faces. Still a boy, he has no idea of what life has in store for him, trapped within European borders.”

020 Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“The inhospitable conditions that are part and parcel of living in a foreign environment are compounded by freezing temperatures caused by the cold spell that swept through Europe. These young men are washing outdoors in temperatures of -17 degrees.”


Refugees Border Marcos Moreno Marcos Moreno

“A group of refugees following the railway track to the Hungarian border. The train tracks in the city Subotica are used by many of the refugees in their attempt to illegally cross to Hungary. The crossing point Kebelija/Tompa is one of the 2 points of passage in the route of the refugees in their attempt to arrive at Europe through Hungary. There are currently official lists of people crossing the border each day. These lists prioritise families and are managed in the fields. The current number of people crossing the border is five to 10 daily – in Serbia there are more than 6000 refugees.”


Moreno has been working in his field since 2004, collaborates as a correspondent for several photography agencies such as AFP, Getty Images and Associated Press. He has also collaborated with Europa Press, La Vanguardia, El País, Libération and his photographs have been published in The Guardian, The New York Times and more.

He was awarded the journalism International Award Mingote in 2010 and has received an Honourable Mention at the 1st International Photojournalism Biennale of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) in 2013.

Without Borders, an exhibition by photojournalist Marcos Moreno opened yesterday at Instituto Cervantes Dublin, Lincoln House, Dublin 2. It runs from 12 – 7pm Monday to Thursday and 10am – 2pm from Friday to Saturday until 10 November. Admission is free. 

Read: This stretch of border shows why Brexit will be an enormous headache to manage – we went to talk>

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