News / Arts & Entertainment

Photos Highlight Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Displaced Persons in S. Sudan

Photos Highlight Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Displaced Persons in South Sudani
X
July 13, 2013 12:23 AM
Renowned photographer Sebastian Rich has spent much of his career traveling around the world documenting the plight of people in war and conflict. In Washington, an exhibit of his work called "Broken Lives" highlights Syrian refugees in Jordan and civilians caught in the fighting in South Sudan. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Deborah Block
Renowned photographer Sebastian Rich has spent much of his career traveling around the world documenting the plight of people in war and conflict.  In Washington, an exhibit of his work called "Broken Lives" highlights Syrian refugees in Jordan and civilians caught in the fighting in South Sudan. 

Rich calls himself “a photojournalist in the right place at the wrong time.”  He has photographed and filmed every major conflict during the past 40 years.  He’s been wounded, kidnapped and held hostage.  But that has not stopped him from getting involved in the stories of the people he photographs.

“The pride, the hope, and the dignity that’s left, because when a refugee becomes a refugee usually they have absolutely nothing, only the shirts on their back when they cross the no-man’s land into the host country," he said. "But what struck me, what they do have left is their pride and dignity.”

Rich is known for his haunting images, especially of children, like a Syrian boy who was just crossing into Jordan.

He says he wants to remind people that anyone can become a refugee.

“In Syria, for instance, these refugees are coming from the city," he said. "They’re not farmers.  They’re politicians, lawyers, doctors, policeman, soldiers, coming to be a refugee for the first time.”

He took the photos for the U.N. refugee agency.  The organization’s U.S. representative, Shelly Pitterman, says the pictures reflect the plight of refugees everywhere.

“You see the trauma in some, the sadness, the loss, the fear that refugees around the world experience," he said.  "But at the same time, you see an element of hope.”

That hope, Rich says, is reflected in a South Sudan refugee camp, where villagers fled to escape fighting between the government and rebel forces.  He says one Syrian refugee, who came to Jordan with nothing, would not let her situation destroy her life.

“And within a few months, she had set up an unbelievably wedding dress hire business in a tin shack," he said. "Where she got the dresses from, I have no idea, but she hires out these ballgowns for weddings, and she does manicures and pedicures in a refugee camp.  That’s fantastic.”

Rich says he appreciates the refugees who let him photograph them, even in their darkest moments, like one Sudanese woman whose son died soon after they reached the refugee camp.  

“The camera is incredibly close to her face," he said. "And even after all the years of sticking my rather intrusive lens into people’s quintessential moments of terror, I wanted to back off, but she wouldn’t let me, and she said through the translator, 'I want my story told, I want my son to be remembered.'”

Rich also got the chance to do something he’d never done before - photograph refugees who have settled in the United States, like a seven-year-old girl from Sudan who is in a class learning about the American flag.

“I went to photograph her and she just held up a little bit of paper with her coloring in of the U.S. flag, and she’s got her shawl over her head, and for me, that was just a wonderful picture,” he said.

The U.N. refugee agency hopes Rich's pictures will bring awareness to the plight of all refugees, especially those in Syria and South Sudan.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."