New York — A new travelling exhibition of photographs featured in a flagship UNHCR publication about refugees around the world has opened to the public at the United Nations building in New York.
The exhibit consists of 26 enlarged photos from "The State of the World's Refugees 2012," which was launched in New York on May 31 by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. The book, which is published every few years, explores key trends in forced displacement from 2006 to 2011. It also looks at the situation of stateless people.
The photos on display show the lives of the displaced as well as the vital and life-saving work that UNHCR conducts in the field. The exhibition, which opened last week in the UN Headquarters Visitors' Lobby, also includes videos depicting the stories of people who are either refugees, forcibly displaced within their own country, or stateless.
The powerful images were taken by professional photographers as well as by UNHCR field staff. They show people in rural camp settings and urban areas and depict the humanity and resilience of people forced from their homes.
The photographs include the cover image from the book, a striking aerial shot of makeshift shelters on the edge of Dadaab, the world's largest refugee complex with almost half-a-million Somali refugees. The homes look like mushrooms sprouting out of the arid red soil.
Another stunning image from the Horn of Africa, by Nansen Refugee Award laureate Alixandra Fazzina, shows a line of desperate people wading out to a boat off the coast of northern Somalia, hoping for a safe passage across the dangerous Gulf of Aden to Yemen. Only 11 people survived the journey.
A photo from Greece shows young migrants and asylum seekers looking out through the barred gate of a detention centre on the island of Lesvos. In the western Kyrgyzstan town of Osh, a woman stands in the shell of the home she was forced to flee to escape inter-ethnic violence in 2010. She has a look of sadness and resignation on her face.
A photo from a refugee camp in Pakistan highlights the importance of education; it shows three young Afghan girls attending a class in school, which might be difficult in some conservative areas of their homeland.
The exhibition also looks at UNHCR's mandate to help the estimated 12 million stateless people in the world. An atmospheric portrait by professional photographer Greg Constantine shows a Crimean woman who was deported to Uzbekistan in 1944. In 1997, she returned to Ukraine and eventually acquired citizenship there.
"This exhibit reminds us that the plight of the world's displaced affects every one of us," said Udo Janz, director of the UNHCR office in New York. "International cooperation and support is imperative to improve the availability and quality of protection for the displaced and to pursue lasting solutions to their plight."
The exhibition will run until August 7 and is expected to be shown in other cities around the world, including later this year in Geneva to coincide with an annual dialogue chaired by High Commissioner Guterres between UNHCR and its partners.