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Photos: See the dramatic change in these before-and-after images of the refugee crisis.

Seven startling image pairs show life before and after the refugee crisis.

Photos: See the dramatic change in these before-and-after images of the refugee crisis.

In March 2016, the route many refugees were using to flee to safety closed for good.

"I want to get out from here," Lazmiya, a Syrian refugee stuck in the Greek town of Idomeni told Al Jazeera. "I have not had a shower since I arrived. There is little assistance. All my clothes are soaked... We are dying here."

The Balkan route stretched from Greece to Northern Europe. Several hundred thousand asylum-seekers used the route, many hoping to make it to Germany. Until this spring, the countries along the way, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria had "wave-through policies" that made it easy for people to walk across the borders under little to no control.


But European Union leaders committed to shutting down the route and ending the border control loopholes, leaving thousands stranded or looking for new routes.

Meanwhile, life in many of the towns along the Balkan route has returned to normal or, at the very least, a new normal.

These photographs show what key locations along the route looked like last year and what they look like now. The differences are startling.

See the dramatic changes a year can make in the seven image pairs below.

1. Stemming the tide in Rigonce, Slovenia

In the top photo, from October 2015, people were escorted by police to a refugee camp in Slovenia. The bottom photo, from July 2016, shows the region's now empty fields.

Top photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images. Bottom photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

2. Refugees making their way on foot to the Austrian border

In 2015, many refugees arrived in Hungary by train and due to wave-through policies were able to walk over two miles into Austria. Now, this stretch of road is mostly quiet.

Top photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images. Bottom photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

3. Ready to leave and no way to do it

Hundreds protested outside of the Budapest Keleti railway station in Hungary after it was closed to refugees and migrants on Sept. 1, 2015.

Photos by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

4. Faces of fear and uncertainty in Budapest

As refugees waited and protested at Keleti station in 2015, one little girl approached the police officers guarding the doors. Today, the same spot is a popular waiting area for travelers.

Photos by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

5. After much delay, a bus stop unlike any other

After waiting and protesting at the train station, thousands of migrants started the long march toward Austria, but the Hungarian government decided to provide buses for anyone still in the capital city. With border closures, gestures like this are no more.

Photos by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

6. Waiting for word in Dobova, Slovenia

In 2015, refugees wait in Dobova for police to escort them to temporary holding camps. Now, the road in this border town is much less crowded.

Top photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images. Bottom photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

7. Pushing and running toward a new opportunity

Refugees forced their way past police at Tovarnik station in an attempt to board a westbound train to Zagreb, Croatia.

Top photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images. Bottom photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

The danger in Syria, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries is still very real.

If refugees cannot flee along the Balkan route, where will they go?

Photo by Louai Beshara/Getty Images.

Some search for new routes to Northern Europe; others wait, stuck in makeshift camps in Greece, unable to cross the border.

A port in Athens, where 1,500 refugees and migrants live at a makeshift camp. Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images.

While limiting the number of refugees and closing down borders may solve the problem for countries running low on resources, housing, and patience with the crisis, it doesn't stop the violence and destruction that made escape the only option for these people in the first place.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together and work toward solutions to ensure the safety of security of displaced people. They need our help and support, and together, we can be a voice for good.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.