Syria’s Refugees Are Trapped Between Hells
I first met war photographer Giles Duley a month ago, to talk about his work both before and after he became a triple amputee in Afghanistan. Giles’s most recent trip since we spoke was to Jordan, where he documented the arrival of Syrian refugees after a long journey across the border. Here’s his account of new arrivals to the Zaatari Camp. – Jamie Collins
The nights become so bitterly cold that I’ve taken shelter in a portakabin staffed by UNHCR doctors. We sit, sipping tea, fighting our tiredness, waiting. It’s nearly 1 AM and there’s still no sign of any refugees arriving. Restless, I go outside to join my colleagues, who are sharing a cigarette in the starless night. Suddenly we are silent. In the distance we can hear buses and then out of that cold dark night they start to arrive. The first to appear is a young girl, maybe five years old, dressed in a cream coat walking with a purpose beyond her years, followed by two young mothers clasping their children, wrapped tightly in blankets to protect them from the cold. They make their way into the large military-style reception tent where they will be processed, fed, given medical attention, and finally allocated their own plot within Zaatari Camp.
I watch as more and more arrive—tens, hundreds and, by dawn, nearly 2,000. There’s man wearing a suit, holding his kid’s hand; an elderly couple struggling to carry their meagre possessions; a pregnant woman in tears; a young man carried across the rough ground in his wheelchair. Each face seems haunted and etched with exhaustion, uncertainty, and fear. The scenes are reminiscent of so many earlier wars, faded black and white images of civilians uprooted and forced to flee with only what they carry. But this is not some terrible past, this is happening now and the war grows more violent and brutal each day.
The numbers are almost beyond comprehension. More than 70,000 people killed, over four million displaced, and more than one million refugees registered by the UNHCR. In Jordan alone, there are 340,000 refugees, many in the tented Zaatari. This number is expected to rise to over one million by the end of the year.
Photograph by Manu Brabo—AP
(A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son, killed by the Syrian Army, near Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.)
Columbia University has announced the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winners for breaking news and feature photography. A five-photographer team from the Associated Press was recognized in the Breaking News photography category for their photographic coverage of the ongoing Syrian civil war. Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Khalil Hamra, Muhammed Muheisen and Narciso Contreras were members of the team that contributed to the agency’s coverage of the two-year-old conflict.
Photograph by Franco Pagetti—VII
They are a familiar sight to anyone who has been on the frontlines in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo: striped sheets that once blocked the harsh sunlight or a neighbor’s prying eyes, now acting as shields against more lethal threats. See Franco Pagetti’s photos of the veils of Aleppo here.
Nihal, 9, puts olive tree branches inside a wooden stove in an underground Roman tomb which she shares with her family as a shelter from Syrian government forces shelling and airstrikes at Jabal al-Zaweya, in Idlib province, Syria on Feb. 28, 2013. Across northern Syria, rebels, soldiers, and civilians are making use of the country’s wealth of ancient and medieval antiquities to protect themselves from Syria’s two-year-old war.
[Credit : Hussein Malla/AP]