04.08.16 1:46 pm
inside the zaatari refugee camp
since the eruption of the brutal conflict in syria in march of 2011, more than 2.5 million refugees have fled their homes in search of peace, safety, and some sense of normalcy.
while tens of thousands have and continue to seek refuge in neighboring countries (turkey, lebanon and iraq to name a few), the zaatari refugee camp (مخيم الزعتري), has quickly become a semi-permanent home for nearly 100,000 individuals most of whom originated in the da’ara governorate in syria’s southwest.
located 10 km east of the city of mafraq and first opened on july 28, 2012, the camp is a three-square-mile piece of land in the desolate jordanian desert; it was initially designed to host a maximum of 60,000 inhabitants and is jointly administered by the jordanian government and the UNHCR (united nations high commission for refugees). the camp, which has fluctuated in population to as high as 250,000, is now the 4th largest ‘city’ in the hashemite kingdom of jordan.
aid and educational efforts are underway in zaatari, but the stories and lived experiences of these individuals – and the policy implications of those stories – are too often lost in translation.
as the international community continues to experience variations of “syria fatigue,” the residents of zaatari show a resilience and determination of a far higher caliber.
in april of 2016, i spent several weeks in the zaatari camp followed by time in outlying, unofficial "tent camps" and then later in iraq working with and photographing IDPs (internally displaced persons).
this exhibition is a collection of images and stories of those who i had the privilege to meet, photograph and in many occasions get to know. i have also included a selection of photos that are intended to contextualize the conditions of zaatari — a walled, tent camp — turned small city — that tens of thousands call home. having recently returned to pittsburgh i wish that i could do more than simply share their names, their faces and their stories here, with you.
until we choose to stop talking about people in large, anonymous, faceless numbers — 2.5 million — it is going to be impossible to evoke the type of response necessary to save our fellow human beings.
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