art of resistance, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria

The world(s) of refugee(s).

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Observed on 20th of June every year, it is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. There are over 44 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world at the moment.

Refugees stories should be more present in media all the time, not just on this day. However – it is good to have them in the headlines and in focus atleast one day of the year.

I’ve assembled some photos, searched my way through great Magnum‘s collections, so here are refugee stories from all over the world, captured by Magnum’s photographers.

LON141140KENYA. Kakuma. Residents from Kakuma Refugee Camp watch evening screenings in the camp set up by FilmAid. 2012 (© Olivia Arthur/Magnum)

PAR447870LEBANON. Saida, 2013. Ein El Helwe palestinian refugee camp. Since 2012 Premiere Urgence NGO has built new infrastructures for drinking water and sewage in Hai El Sahon area. The camp is divided in 15 sectors. Each one is leaded by a popular comitee. Abu Icham at home with his family. (© Jerome Sessini/Magnum)

mijanmarMYANMAR. 2014. SITTWE. Rakhine State. Local area where a number of camps have been set up for the Internally Displaced People – all Muslim, who were attacked by the local Arakan people who do not want them living in Myanmar. These are Muslim children from the host Muslim population where the IDP’s have been put in camps. Fishing for small fish in a pond. (© Chris Steele-Perkins/ Magnum)

NYC144348CONGO. Dungu, Haut-Uele District. April 11, 2013. Father Benoit Kinalegu runs an orphanage for child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). These drawings were made by the child victims of the LRA. Haut-Uele District, located in Orientale Province, is one of the areas in which the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operates. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC136190LEBANON. Bar-elias, Bekaa Valley, 2013. A young Syrian refugee stands behind barbwire at a small lake next to a spring where refugees collect drinking water on the outskirts of the Al-Jarrah tent settlement in the Bekaa Valley. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

NYC149729NORWAY. Vesteraalen. 2012. Melbu school yard. Some levels in the school have more than 50% immigrant children. In Melbu, about 200 of the town’s 2000 inhabitants are asylum seekers. In addition about 200 are permanently settled refugees. (© Jonas Bendiksen/ Magnum)

michael cristopherCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. BANGUI. March 21, 2014. At the M’Poko IDP camp, a mostly Christian camp located at the Bangui International Airport, children play on the runway. Anti-Balaka fighters mingle freely with the civilians there. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC135138GERMANY,  2013. A painting in the home of Ashgar Hassanzadeh, 34, an Afghan refugee who had three fingers chopped off and 22 bones broken by Taliban threatening him for working with coalition forces. He fled with his family to Europe and was detained in Bavaria. They are now in a refugee camp in Wurzburg, Bavaria. It is the largest camp in Bavaria and refugees usually spend years there before their status is resolved and they are granted residency, or they are deported back to their home country. The refugees are housed in a barracks from the Nazi era and receive a small subsidy from the German government. There is widespread frustration and depression in the camp, including a recent suicide by an Iranian refugee and a hunger strike by another group. (© Peter van Agtmael/ Magnum)

PAR415257Somalia, Mogadishu, 2012. A young girl sweeps infront of her tent inside a over populated internally displaced camp in Mogadishu. Many IDP’s have fled into Mogadishu since it has become more safe after the African Union troops along side the Transitional Government Forces have managed to push Al-Shabaab out of the city. (© Dominic Nahr/ Magnum)

NYC136217JORDAN. Amman. June 12, 2013. Syrian refugee children living in a rented apartment in the Wadi Haddad district of East Amman. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

LON155227Jordan. 2013. Zaatari Refugee camp. Children drawing. One image by a 6 year old boy depicts a man being hanged. (© Stuart Franklin/ Magnum)

NYC141670IRAQ. Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. July 29, 2013. Young Syrian refugees atop the rubble of a former Iraqi Army barracks next to the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees on the outskirts of Dohuk. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

And here’s a little bit more  -this is an excerpt from Brothers in hope: The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, written by Mary Williams, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It is a children’s book describing a story of a young boy who unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety in a refugee camp in another country (first in Ethiopia, then in Kenya), after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan.

“When I turned eight years old, I began to tend some small calves on my own. I cleaned them, nursed them when they were sick, and led them to the very best pastures and watering holes. I quickly grew to love these animals. Then one day everything in my life changed. “


“Before war came, I had never seen so many people in one place. My village had only one hundred people. Now I was in a moving village with thousands of boys.  Like me, the other boys were away from their villages tending the cattle when war came.”


I’ve said it already – refugee stories are to be shared and retold, so here are the excerpts from one more beautiful  book – The Lotus Seed  by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi. It’s a story of a girl’s grandmother and the special significance of the lotus seed she carried with her when she escaped from Vietnam and made her way to a new country.





“Nothing that grows in a pond

Surpasses the beauty of the lotus flower,

With its green leaves and silky yellow styles

Amidst milky white petals.

Though mired in mud, its silky yellow styles,

Its milky white petals and green leaves 

Do not smell of mud.”

art of resistance, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria

Vintage Photography from the Middle East.

These great coloured photochromes and albumin prints are presented to the world by Elger Esser, and belong to Herzog collection, Basel.

PALESTINE, 1880-1890










SYRIA, 1880.



LEBANON, 1880.



2751all photos ©Elger Esser/Herzog Collection

For more  time travel like this, go to Sfeir-Semler gallery.

art of resistance, Iraq

Nina Simone and war(s) in Iraq.

Nina Simone was much more than a singer and her voice was much more than a voice – she was an activist, and her message went beyond music. She was a rebel with cause and her story remains inspirational. When she was 12,  during her first performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. Simone said she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front.

Nina Simone©Getty Images

“I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.”

Nina Simone

She is one of those musicians I can always listen to. I’ve been listening to her music last couple of days too, mixed with news from Iraq. And – it’s always fascinating how different struggles of the world can seem so alike – because they’re struggles, beacuse there is pain, because there’s always big fish and small fish. And so it was with Nina Simone and Iraq – so here’s a combination of Simone’s songs and fresh Iraq photos, by Moises Saman, Magnum’s photographer.


Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Simone, Mississippi Godam


All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies

Simone, Mississippi Goddam


But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

Simone, Mississippi Goddam


There is a beautiful land
Where all your dreams come true;
It’s all tied up in a rainbow,
All shiny and new;
But it’s not easy to find
No matter what you do.

Simone, Beautiful land


I said nobody knows you
When you’re down and out
In your pocket, you ain’t got one penny
And your friends, you didn’t have any

Simone, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out


Sit there and count the raindrops
Falling on you
It’s time you knew
All you can ever count on
Are the raindrops
That fall on little girl blue

Simone, Little girl blue


You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile

Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe

Simone, The ballad of Hollis Brown


Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Breaking rocks and serving my time
Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Because they done convicted me of crime
Hold it steady right there while I hit it
Well reckon that ought to get it
Working and working
But I still got so terribly far to go

Simone, Chain Gang

NYC149890all photos ©Moises Saman/Magnum

For more on Saman’s photos from Iraq and his work in general, go to his Magnum profile.

art of resistance

Skateboarding state of Uganda.

Skateboarding spread around Uganda almost ten years ago, and since then they’ve developed skateboarding unions, published skateboarding magazines, started skateboarding projects, and – enjoyed skateboarding, of course.

Uganda Skateboard Union describes its story and mission:



They also participate and initiate projects with other countries – recently they’ve been a part of The Africa Skateboarding Magazine, together with skating lovers from Kenya and Tanzania. All of the young skaters are hordworking and enjoy skating. For them, it’s a way to rise up against the idleness and boredom caused by poverty.


Bashiri is practically a legend. He is mentioned in every skateboarding feature from Uganda. Here are some more photos.




lpall photos © Uganda Skateboard Union

For more about this lovely story, got to Uganda Skateboard Union, and visit their wordpress blog.

Afghanistan, art of resistance

Afghanistan: Damaged people, damaged landscape.

Photo essay Damaged people, damaged landscape by Ziyah Gafić (from the series Short Stories from Troubled Societies)







sasssssssssssall photos ©Ziyah Gafić

For more on this photo essay and other Short Stories from Troubled Societies (featuring stories from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Palestine and Chechnya), go to Ziyah’s official website.

art of resistance, Iraq

Short Stories from Troubled Societies: The Saddam City.

Ziyah Gafić is a photographer I’ve been loving and following for couple of years now. He’s been all over the Middle East and has dealt with conflict areas through his work for more than a decade.

Due to all the news pouring in from Iraq lately, I’ve decided to post a part of Ziyah’s Short Stories from Troubled Societies , a part concerning Iraq. It’s a photo essay called Saddam City.

As Gafić writes it:

“These photo-essays unpretentiously seek to illuminate the pattern of questionable international involvement and focus on the people left behind, struggling to restore some kind of daily order in their damaged environments.”







1233all photos ©Ziyah Gafić

For more on this photo essay, and other work by Gafić, go to his official website.


Iraq in crisis.

Iraq is on the brink of disintegration as Sunni militants seize more towns and now set their sights on the capital Baghdad. In the past few days, al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, as well as Tikrit and Dhuluiya. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk.

The Sunni militants now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Fallujah in western Iraq and now the northern city of Mosul. Their advance has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, displacing some 500,000 people in Mosul alone. Mosul fell in part because U.S.-trained Iraqi forces abandoned their posts. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reportedly urged the U.S. to carry out airstrikes in recent months, but the Obama administration has declined the request so far.

Amy and Juan of Democracy Now are joined by two guests: Ned Parker, Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad, and Mohammed al Dulaimy, an Iraqi journalist with McClatchy Newspapers who reported from Iraq for years and is now seeking U.S. asylum out of fear for his safety if he returns. This is Dulaimy’s first TV interview after years of maintaining a low profile to protect his safety.

Watch it on Democracy Now.

art of resistance, Egypt

Fresh and graphic: The apartment in Bab el-Louk.

When was the last time you read a graphic novel from the Arab world?

It was probably some time ago, so here is something fresh and original demanding attention. It’s called The apartment in Bab elLoukand it is a great collaboration by Donia Maher , Ganzeer and Ahmed Nady.

Donia is an Egyptian artist and writer. Ganzeer has been a graphic designer since 2005, and involved in contemporary art since 2007 with a variety of exhibitions between Egypt, Germany, Holland, Poland, Italy, Brazil, USA, Emirates, and Jordan.

The apartment in Bab el-Louk is being translated to English by Elisabeth Jaquette. She’s been translating Arabic for a while now, working on many projects, from Jadaliyya, to the Palestine Festival of Literature.

Bab El-Louk is a neighborhood in downtown Cairo, a two-minute walk from Tahrir Square, where many young artists and rabble-rousers, including Ahmad Nady, live. It’s also home to some of Cairo’s finest cafes and dingiest bars.

Here are some photos, to get you excited about the story (the English excerpt is translated by Jaquette and lettered by Salma Shamel).

“When you move in the apartment in Bab el-Louk, you’ll feel like you’ve emigrated to another country, but for all the people you meet there, you won’t really know anyone.”




“Outside your window, Cairo’s nooks and cronnies are lonely and forsakem, like a deserted crime scene. Distant lights reveal themselves to you furtivaley, never coming too close.”




“Sometimes, you’ll wake up in the apartment in Bab el-Louk to repeated cries:

ha ha ha ha ha ha”

Letterhead-draft2© Donia Maher and Ganzeer. Translation © 2014 by Elisabeth Jaquette. English lettering by Salma Shamel

For more on this lovely novella, go to Words without borders, and check out the interview with Ganzeer on Arablit.

art of resistance, Pakistan

The voices of Partition.

“I have no definite answer to questions about why I migrated from India to Pakistan after the partition in 1947. I look back and see a crowded train rushing past lively and desolate towns and villages, under a bright sun, and in the dark of night. The train is running through the most frightening night and the passengers are quite like statues. I strain to hear them breathe. Where will the train stop? And will it move again, if it stops? 

Half a century later, it seems to have been the moment when two eras met and parted. History has its own dawns and dusks. We were in between the dusk and dawn of history. That is what made the journey from Meerut to Lahore the longest journey. We weren’t on the train; we were on the ship of history. We had left home at dawn and it was noon. The train had already crossed Saharanpur. We were past the borders of our province, Uttar Pradesh, into that enormous wilderness that had seen carnage a few days earlier. Now there was silence. Those destined to survive and leave had left. Those destined to fall had fallen. Their homes were still smoldering. 

The train chugged on, indifferent to the ruined towns.”

Intizaar Hussein, The First Morning (excerpt)



PARTITION_MIGRATIONPartition of India, 1947. (photos source: wikipedia)

*Intizaar Hussein is a famous Urdu fiction writer, known for his unique prose style. Two of his works, The Seventh Door and Leaves, are available in English.

art of resistance, Pakistan

Pakistan, a Modern history (photos).

Aaron Huey is, as he puts it on his website:

A National Geographic Photographer.
A Harper’s Magazine Contributing Editor.
A Stanford d.School Ambassador.
A Wearer of Gold Shoes.
A Climber of Rocks.
A Father.
A Husband.
An Artist.

I love his Pakistan, a Modern history series and here are bits of it.









3312all photos © Aaron Huey

For more, got to Huey’s official webiste.