A PENISTONE army veteran has published a book after being ‘horrified’ first-hand at the plight of refugees and the conditions they were living in.
Mark Slater, 49, of Westacre, served in the army for more than ten years in the Balkans and decided to publish his new book - Refugees of Moria - to highlight the conditions that thousands of refugees were in at the infamous camp.
Lying in the north-east of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, the Moria refugee camp was one of Europe’s largest before it was burnt to the ground in September - leaving around 12,000 people to sleep on the side of the road.
Mark, who has been working on the book for seven months, told the Chronicle: “The book documents the conditions refugees had to endure in the now infamous Moria refugee camp.
“While on peace-keeping business in Bosnia in the late 1990s I saw the issues happening around me and I thought to myself how could this be happening?
“I was horrified to see the plight of refugees coming across the Adriatic and seeing the body of a small child, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Greek beach.
“This is Europe in the 21st century - how can this still be allowed to happen?”
Mark was injured whilst on patrol in Bosnia in 1998 and ever since has thrown himself into photography, and has become a foster carer for more than 30 children with his wife.
“I served in the war for more than ten years before I was injured in Bosnia,” he added.
“While I was out on patrol doing checks our Land Rover went off the road and down a hill - I injured my leg and following that I was discharged.
“The book is a powerful reminder of what people are still having to endure and people are still drowning in the seas around the European coast, and now off the coast of the UK.”
Mark, who is also a photographer, has self-published books previously but this is his first book released by a publishing company.
The book contains more than 100 photographs of the camp and Mark says the response he has received since its launch has been fantastic.
During lockdown Mark also volunteered as a first-responder for the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, a task which has seen him rack up more than 600 hours of work, whilst also currently looking after three teenagers - something that has caused Mark’s free time to be at a premium.
“The pandemic had put everything on hold so it took around seven months to get the book fully completed and published,” Mark said.
“The support has been really positive and a lot of the feedback I’ve received has been great.
“During the first lockdown I was on duty as a first responder and I ended up working every day for 100 days - working for around 600 hours in total.
“I’ve currently got three teenagers in foster care and I’ve had more than 30 in mine and my wife’s care over the years.”
Mark is also currently working on an exhibition around foster care which is set to be on show at the Cooper Gallery towards the end of 2021.