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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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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