Night after night in a Greek port, refugees and migrants wait for their chance at a better life.

PATRAS, Greece—Ali Muhammed has been camped out at the abandoned wood factory for nearly three weeks. Tonight, on a mild evening in early May, he will spend many hours hidden in the shifting shadows along the walls that surround the port of Patras. He is waiting for the ships to pull into harbor, where they will be loaded with trucks and containers heading for Italy. He is scouting out the best place to conceal himself.

Muhammed is one of hundreds of refugees and migrants who have come to Patras, one of Greece’s oldest and largest ports, in an attempt to reach wealthier countries in northern and central Europe. He is 27, from Pakistan, and has a calm and kind way about him. He speaks Urdu and Farsi, and his English is impeccable. He often acts as a translator for the rest of the young men at the factory. But because he is the only Ismaili Shiite in a group of mostly Sunni Afghans, he says he does not always feel safe.

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