‘real people real need’ is a Photo Exhibition organized by UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency and curated by photo.circle on 20-24 June 2009 in Kathmandu concluded yesterday at Bhirkuti Mandap Exhibition Hall. The photo exhibition was organized to mark World Refugee Day.
Here are some photographs which I took yesterday hoping to share here in EU among those who nourish similar interest as me. I have also excerpted opinion by some journalists, writers and photographers to give some wider perspective on this photo exhibition.
A critically ill women in Kibati camp, close to the North Kivu capital of Goma. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 1,250 Congolese die every day from war-related causes, including illness that in peacetime would be treatable. Photo: Christian Als.
The photographs especially in black and white exude the sheer power of a dismal energy. The refugees in such photographs look like people sculpted in dark caught between stillness and mobility, human and subhuman avatars, dignity and humiliation, defeat and resolution. I shuddered for a moment to think what might happen in the lives of the people of Nepal if political workers and parities miss the great opportunities of peace, progress and reconciliation and take wrong decisions. The fate millions is in their hands. I repeat, and optimist is like a lonely flower plant buffeted by fast currents of water. As an optimist, I try to couch my fear in questions that also yell out some answers because they have to reach out to many responsible indifferent ears. —
Abhi Subedi, The Kathmandu Post, 24 June 2009.
Portrait of an old man as a refugee.
Photo: Saiful Huq Omi.
The Disowned and the Denied:
Saiful Hug Omi Photographer
The people of Bangladesh know what it is to be a refugee. In 1971, around 10 million Bangladeshis sought safety outside their country in what was probably the single largest and most rapid displacement in history.
Bangladesh has hosted refugees for over three decades. Today, 28,000 refugees for over three ethnic, religious and linguistic minority, commonly known as the Rohingya — are living in the camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong in the south-east district of Cox’s Bazar. Over half of them are children – many of whom have only experienced life in the camps. They live in one of the most prolonged refugee situations in the world today. The Government estimates that an additional 100,000 to 200,000 unregistered Rohingya are also living in the country.
Like refugees around the world, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are survivors! They are living in transience, waiting for the day they can go home in safety and in dignity. Until then, like any other person, they aspire to live a life free from violence and exploitation. They want to receive a proper education, earn and living, and contribute to Bangladesh which continues to generously host them.
What is a refugee?
Article 1 of the Convention defines a refugee as “A person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political nationality, opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.
There are 42 million uprooted people across the world today, of which 15.2 million are refugees and asylum seekers, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refuges (UNHCR). The global credit crunch and recession means nothing to them. For them, a domicile could mean a small hut, a bamboo shed, a corner or the street, or even the roads. It is believed that nearly 15, 000 people are displaced everyday from homes. Despite these people seem to have in common I hope- that one day they will return to place called HOME.
Vijayshree Sunkhani - The Kathmandu Post, 21 June 2009.
“As a photographer, I toured the camps in search of sadness but found hope. I searched for photogenic misery but found bright eyes and easy smiles. I searched for fatalism but found a vibrant community. I looked for loneliness but dound friendship. In Beldangi, I came across a wedding. Life carried on here. ” —
Ashok R. Shakya, Photographer.
Sher Zaman, 50, squeezed 10 people into his LPG-powered auto-rickshaw on his flight from Swat Valley to the city of Mardan. The vehicle usually carries five, including its driver. Sher Zaman now stays in the tent city of Skeikh Yassin, Pakistan, where more than 15,000 refugees are living.
Photo: Edwin Koo.
Years of brutal conflict take their toll on an elderly women (left frame) in Mugunga, west of Goma.
Photo: Christian Als.
Women in the traditional hijab queue up for medicine at a dispensary in Shah Mansoor camp, Swabi, Pakistan. Many refugees suffer from diarrhea and heat-related illnesses as they fail to adapt to life in the sun-baked Plaines. Photo: Edwin Koo.
Pictures in the Exhibition are by: Ashok R. Shakya, Kari Collins, Kashish Das Shrestha, NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, Edwin Koo, Zalmai, Christian Als, Saiful Huq Omi, John Lehmann, James Giambrone and H.E. Nancy Powell