Battling boredom: Refugee camps are crowded with people waiting to restart their lives

Our latest story comes from the Greek island of Samos where refugee women and girls who once hoped for careers and independence are now being forced back into traditional roles, with no choice but to watch the washing dry.

Crippling boredom and living with long-term uncertainty are themes that continually crop up in our stories about migration, from refugee camps in Greece to small towns in Italy and a night shelter in Coventry, UK. As temporary camps turn into established communities, humanitarian organisations warn that a generation is being lost in limbo.

This collection of five stories hears the voices of refugees whose lives are at a standstill.

Living in limbo: How refugees pass time at an asylum centre in Italy

This photo essay by award-winning photographer César Dezfuli follows the journey of Gambian refugee Malick Jeng after being rescued from the Mediterranean. Malick now shares a room with three other men in an Italian asylum centre while waiting for his application for asylum to be processed. Refugees like Malick can wait up to two years for an answer to their asylum application, during which time they are not permitted to work.

“The Home Office is coming”: Life within the UK asylum system

Olivia Konotey-Ahulu reflects on three years of volunteering at a night shelter for refugees and asylum seekers. She reports that a deficit of staff and funds allocated to the asylum system meant that those claiming asylum had been thrown into an indefinite limbo, where they could wait two or three years to hear the decision of their first claim.

Alone in Italy: life after the shipwreck

Lissalina Marwig tells the story of Gambian refugee Amadou, who is now living in Italy. People like Amadou look to Europe for help and with hope but the reality is different. In Italy refugees can expect long waiting times, missing information and a jungle of asylum processes.

Once upon a time, a hope called Idomeni

Journalist and photographer Dario Sabaghi interviews residents of what was formerly Europe's largest informal refugee camp, located in the Northern Greek village of Idomeni. He meets 20-year-old Abdel from north Syria who studied physics before he fled the country and tells Dario, "I can’t stay here. I want to continue my studies".