Daily Archives: November 22, 2017

#NoCountryForChildren – 7 Instagram Accounts That Will Make You Look At The Rohingya Crisis Through A Child’s Eyes

As thousands of Rohingya Muslims have made their way to Bangladesh and other countries, photographers have gone to incredible lengths to document their harrowing journeys, as they search for safety and better lives. Many photojournalists and reporters have shared images daily, making sure the world gets a first-hand look at the struggles involved.

“You are there trying to do your job with a camera in your hand. And then your heart overrules your head. I had been in the camps, where everything was quite settled. But then I saw the real chaos and the refugees’ desperate situation. You hear about it. But seeing it is a completely different thing.” – said Hannah McKay of Reuters. And yet these brave photojournalists, describe the indescribable battle for survival of the Rohingya against the heinous human rights violations, because they need to remind us, through their visuals, never to forget.

Never to forget the countless children who left home and drowned on their way to safety, never to forget the children who stand in queues for countless hours just for a spoon full of food, never to forget the young girls being married off early and the young boys working to make ends meet, never to forget the children trying to make a new place home but being denied the right to do so, and never to forget that the reason our children live to see such days, is because somewhere, we forgot about humanity.

Below is a selection of instagram accounts to follow that allow you to look at the Rohingya Crisis through a child’s eyes.

1. Greg Constantine is a documentary photographer who works on projects that focus on human rights, injustice and inequality. In 2005, he began work on Nowhere People, that documents the struggles and plight of stateless communities around the world. He has received multiple awards for his work, collaborated with leading organizations like UNHCR and others that work with refugees, published numerous books inter-related to his Nowhere people project and delivered a Ted Talk too.

2. Ahmer Khan was previously, Communications/Photographer World Health Organisation, today, he is an independent documentary photographer and a radio journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and covering social issues amongst other subjects across the world. His work has been featured in the leading publications like the Guardian, Vice, BBC and Aljazeera. Don’t miss A Textbook Example of Ethnic Cleansing: Photographs of the Rohingya in Myanmar by Ahmer and follow him on twitter.

Rohingya Muslim refugee children play football in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. An estimated 605,000 Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh to flee an offensive by Myanmar’s military that the United Nations has called the world’s “fastest developing refugee emergency” and a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Of those who have crossed the border – 60 percent are children, according to the (UNICEF). The government of Bangladesh has said it will build 6,000 separate shelters for Rohingya children. Every day, more Rohingyas are crossing over to Bangladesh and the refugee population is expected to swell further. It is the largest refugee crisis in Asia in decades. Thousands are said to be stranded at the border crossing while hundreds of others are making the perilous journey on foot towards the border or paying smugglers to take them across in wooden boats. Dozens, mostly children, have perished after their boats capsized on the way to Bangladesh. Photo by Ahmer Khan. #photooftheday #rohingya #documentary #bangladesh #refugeecamp #reportagespotlight #picoftheday #photojournalism #instadaily #instagram #myanmar #muslim #portrait #onassignment #documentaryphotography #refugeecamp #southasia #coxbazar #natgeoyourshot #everydayeverywhere #everydayrefugees #children #childrenrefugees #football

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3. Burhaan Kinu, having grown up in Kashmir, started his career as a photo-journalist at the Kashmir Observer, where he documented the state’s conflict. He currently works with Hindustan Times and was recently awarded the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for 2015 in the Photojournalism category. Burhaan’s main goal and focus is to effectively represent the world around him, to provide a space to marginalized voices and construct alternative visions. A glimpse through his instagram account will give you a peak at stories of Rohingya children living in refugee camps across Delhi.

4. Adnan Abidi is Reuters photo-journalist based in New Delhi. “In photojournalism you need to get beyond the visible and dig out a story within a story,” he says and does as he documents visual stories of the Rohingya community fleeing to Bangladesh. His story ‘Rohingya refugee boy works to support family’ is a heart breaking reflection of what childhoods look like in a crisis.

#Repost @reuters (@get_repost) ・・・ Twelve-year-old Nur Hafes would rather be in school or playing football with friends at home in Myanmar. Instead, he waits by the road in Palong Khali refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, looking for visitors who might give him money for his family. Sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother since they arrived at the camp in Cox's Bazar two months ago, Nur spends his days watching for Muslim clerics who distribute money collected at mosques for the refugees. Opening a brown umbrella, Nur offers to shade the visitors from the blazing sun, which can bring in a little extra cash for food and supplies. "Sometimes I get 50 or 100 taka and some days I come back empty-handed," Nur said, holding up a 50-taka ($0.60) note he received from a donor. Nur and his family are among the more than 600,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh since August to escape a counter-insurgency operation by the Myanmar military after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi @adnanabidi #reuters #reutersphotos #rohingya #bangladesh #childhood #refugeescrisis #humanity

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5. Kevin Frayer, Canadian photojournalist, interested mostly in Climate Change and the “Ethnosphere”, noted for his wartime work in the Middle East including the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, is narrating stories of the Rohingya Crisis too. Almost synonymous with broken childhoods of the Rohingya crisis, Kevin Frayer’s iconic black and white documentation of their lives makes the crisis come to life for many of us far away from these harsh realities.

A young Rohingya refugee boy cries as he climbs on a truck as he and others crowd and struggle during a food distribution by a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. More than half a million Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh to flee an offensive by Myanmar’s military that the United Nations has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. The refugee population is expected to swell further, with thousands more Rohingya Muslims said to be making the perilous journey on foot toward the border, or paying smugglers to take them across by water in wooden boats. Hundreds are known to have died trying to escape, and survivors arrive with horrifying accounts of villages burned, women raped, and scores killed in the “clearance operations” by Myanmar’s army and Buddhist mobs that were sparked by militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. What the Rohingya refugees flee to is a different kind of suffering in sprawling makeshift camps rife with fears of malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. Aid organizations are struggling to keep pace with the scale of need and the staggering number of them — an estimated 60 percent — who are children arriving alone. Bangladesh, whose acceptance of the refugees has been praised by humanitarian officials for saving lives, has urged the creation of an internationally-recognized “safe zone” where refugees can return, though Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. World leaders are still debating how to confront the country and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who championed democracy, but now appears unable or unwilling to stop the army’s brutal crackdown. #gettyimages #rohingya #myanmar #bangladesh @gettyimages

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6. Patrick Brown, Australian documentary photographer, has been represented by the prestigious agency Panos Pictures since 2003 and continues to cover social issues that are often forgotten by the mainstream media today. Patrick’s impressive volume of work, faultless in the portrayal of the human condition, hopes, and disillusionment, the everyday and the extraordinary are captured in almost all his photography. Patrick’s coverage of the Rohingya crisis, and a focused emphasis on children is visible across almost every publication covering stories of Rohingya Muslims.

7. Danish Siddiqui, an award winning photojournalist with Reuters. Danish has covered several important and breaking news stories all over South Asia. His work has also included covering the war in Afghanistan to documenting the living conditions of asylum seekers in Switzerland. He has also briefly worked in London on a photo documentary on Muslim converts. “While I enjoy covering news stories – from business to politics to sports – what I enjoy most is capturing the human face of a breaking story,” says Danish. His narration of the Rohingya crisis is telling of his passion for the medium and his desire to tell their stories.

#NoCountryForChildren – Waiting Their Turn

Yes I am a Rohingya
Yes I am from Myanmar
But I too am Human

– Ali jar

Between reasons quoted by different countries on why they do not want to provide refuge to the Rohingya Muslim Community – security, safety, violence, and terrorism – those who remain caught in the crossfire of this crisis are harmless, innocent children.

60% of those who have fled Myanmar after violence broke out are children, says the UNICEF Child Alert: Outcast and Desperate Report, with at least 1,100 separated from their parents. Many more continue to cross the border everyday. With such large numbers of children at risk of exploitation, abuse and violence, the likelihood of a catastrophe looms over humankind.

From queuing up, fighting for food with others as hungry as them, scrambling through piles of donated clothes, helping their families fetch water, living in lamentable, life-threatening conditions, susceptible to illnesses and diseases, tending to their siblings, finding sanctuary in temporary schools, battling unpredictable weather and being vulnerable to harmful situations that visuals cannot capture, these photos represent only a single moment captured in the strenuous, burdensome lives of children, waiting their turn to the most basic rights, instead of living an untroubled childhood.

Girls reach out for food handed out by a volunteer organization in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. (Photo – Tommy Trenchard/Caritas)

A Rohingya child sits amid piles of donated clothes at a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh. (Photo- Tommy Trenchard/Caritas)

Rohingya children walk to their tents after fetching drinking water at a makeshift camp near Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (Photo- AP)

A Rohingya refugee child washes utensils in the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (Photo- Reuters)

Desperate living conditions and waterborne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children. (Photo- India Today)

A Rohingya refugee girl carries a baby while walking in a camp in Cox’s Bazar (Photo- Reuters)

A Rohingya girl gestures while reciting a poem at a makeshift school at Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar (Photo- Reuters)

A Rohingya Muslim girl, waits for her mother as she takes shelter under an umbrella after collecting food aid as it rains in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh (Photo- Dar Yasin/ AP)


#NoCountryForChildren – In Conversation With Two-Time Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Muhammed Muheisen needs no introduction. Having photographed the capture of Saddam Hussein, the funeral of Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Yemeni revolution amongst other defining moments in world history, most recently Muheisen has focused his lens on the refugee crisis across Europe. Born in Jerusalem, he joined the Associated Press as the Chief Photographer for the Middle-East, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001, and resigned after 16 years in 2017. 

No stranger to conflict himself, Muheisen’s work stands out like none other. His images reflect his compassion, his commitment to the art of photography, and his unwavering engagement with the lives and the issues that surround him. “Children are the real victims of conflict,” he says, often capturing the innocent cheer and simplicity of his subject’s life, staying away from cliches that such scenes often present. Muheisen’s outlook to conflict, children and his desire to tell honest stories, awaken humanity and change his narrative entirely… “Wherever there is a war, there is life right next to it. If there is a funeral on the right, you can have a baby just born on the left. This is the theme of the work that I do.”

1.Tell us about yourself, your life as a photographer/ photojournalist. When and why did you take on this profession? How and why did everydayrefugees come about?

Muhammed Muheisen: My passion for photography started since I was young, the environment where I was born and raised, under conflict, and my ambition as a child to grow up and be someone who can help. Though my professional career as a photojournalist traveling from one place to another, they all shared one thing in common: the conflict. The people were always the victims of these conflicts, especially children. Most of my work as a professional photojournalist is focused on refugees, internally displaced people, minorities and education that reached the heart of the public, created awareness and a lot of questions from the public came back to me. On top of the questions was always ‘how can we help the people you photograph?’ And this is where me and my partner Rosanna Wijngaards, the other founder and Managing Director of Everyday Refugees, decided to make it happen with the Everyday Refugees Foundation. The reason was to show images though our social media platforms that can create awareness that leads to an actual help and at the moment Everyday Refugees is a Dutch based non profit organization, our coming project will be in Serbia to help stranded unaccompanied minors.

2. Makeshift schools, water pumps, bubble-blowers and balloon sellers … tell us what it’s like to live and work in the world’s largest community of refugees. What was that decisive moment that tilted you towards documenting the lives of refugees?

Muhammed Muheisen: Working in these vulnerable communities in Pakistan was a real challenge, I had to spend a lot of time walking and talking without even speaking the language, to gain people’s trust, to become invisible and become part of their landscape. Trust and respect were the most important elements to be able to show a window of their daily lives. These people can tell if you are a friend or a threat, getting to know their culture, and respect their traditions…these were the other reasons that I managed to document their everyday lives. It’s not a 100 meters but a marathon and I worked almost 4.5 years to be able to show the world part of their lives and if learned something, I learned what I have and how lucky we are. After witnessing all these children happy from nothing and finding creative ways to play from the minimum recourses they have got, I realized we need nothing to be happy.

3. Everyday Refugees primarily documents the lives of children. Why did you choose to focus on children? 

Muhammed Muheisen: I personally believe that children are the real victims of any conflict, children all over the world share the same things in common, they seek fun, joy and happiness. Children do not get to choose where they were born, or the circumstances around them, that’s why I always find my camera focusing on children. It’s not only a picture, it’s a message from a child from one part of the world to the other part of the world and it is my responsibility as a photographer to make sure to carry and deliver this message.

4. You’ve been witness to the refugee crisis across Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan amongst others. According to you who is the most severely affected in their life as a refugee? And how?

Muhammed Muheisen: Refugees all over the world are affected in all ways, being uprooted and having to flee from war, violence, poverty, famine.. nobody wants to leave their home unless they are forced to. You don’t get to choose to be displaced, to be stripped off all your belonging to leave all your memories behind. Being a refugee is unimaginable unless you are a refugee and I do my best to show a window of the struggle they face and pass through.

5. Could you tell us a little bit about the everyday life of a child in a refugee camp.

Muhammed Muheisen: Children all over the world, whether they are in a refugee camp or not, are children. They want to play, have fun. However, in my personal experience I witnessed children who live in vulnerable circumstances who manage to fill their time with happy things from nothing. Like children playing with stones or a balloon which gives the biggest smiles on their faces or skipping a rope etc. I noticed from nothing they are able to create something.

6. In an interview with the Time Magazine you said, “Their tough life makes them look older and react as elderly people, but their innocence is right there in their eyes.” Please share your encounter with one such child.

Muhammed Muheisen: Their rough life is so obvious on their skin, and through their eyes I used to feel the difficulties they are living in that’s why I always come close to show in a portrait what is it to be a child refugee. The eyes could never lie, it is the door to the soul and through their eyes I try to show their lives. Hamagai Akbar, a five-year-old refugee from Afghanistan whom I have seen amongst other children growing up in front of my eyes through the years I spent in Pakistan. Every time I used to see them growing so fast, not by age but by appearance. Their beauty got mixed with the hard conditions surrounding them and their families.

7. Children expend a spirit of humanism even in the most dire cirumstances. Tell us more about what you learnt from children during your visits to refugee camps.

Muhammed Muheisen: I learned from children that everything is possible, there is no limit to what a human being can do when they believe what they can do. Someone who has nothing and doesn’t complain, a balloon or skipping rope a piece of robe or playing traditional games used to make these children laugh, heard from a distance and used to drag me all the way with my camera to capture those moments that used to cheer my heart and make me see and feel hope. If I wish something for all these children I wish them peace and a better future because they taught me to feel lucky, to be honest and be a better person.

8. Children all across the world share something in common – the right to a childhood. How would you describe childhoods in refugee camps?

Muhammed Muheisen: The tough life and the harsh conditions turned them into young men and women. Their priority is to survive so they no longer act as children, but as young men and women. That was the saddest thing I used to witness when I was surrounded by these children.

9. “Children are the real victims of any conflict.” In refugee camps, what do you believe is the most pressing concern for the safety and protection of children? And why? 

Muhammed Muheisen: Education is the key to everything, with education you guarantee a future to any child. I remember while working in a makeshift school for Afghan refugees and internally displaced people in Pakistan, that children didn’t have much choice. They all had to work to help their families and being in school was a luxury and to compare between a child who went to school and a child who didn’t, there was a big contrast in hygiene, manners, confidence.. Education is the key to have a better future for any child.

10. What are the dreams and aspirations of children outside of a refugee camp? Tell us about them. 

Muhammed Muheisen: Simply your question makes me smile. It took me straight to moments when I asked a child from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer was always: “I just want to grow up”. No high expectations, but the fact that they want to grow up. A lesson I learned while working in camps, in slums and in poor neighborhoods was that the expectations are low, however, they are happier than other children fortunate enough to be born in a peaceful country.

11. Photographing children comes with a responsibility. Trust, compassion, privacy, protection are words that come to mind instantly. How do you believe you have fulfilled the role of a child rights ambassador by telling stories of refugee children across the world?

Muhammed Muheisen: I was a child who was born and raised in conflict myself, so I am not a stranger to all the people that I photograph. Sensitivity, respect and honesty are the keys, children can’t lie or fake it and through their eyes I try to show what they passed through. I believe as a photojournalist it is my responsibility to be out there to tell untold stories, to document issues been forgotten and children are the real victims of any conflict that’s why I always give a fair amount of my photography to photograph them.

12. You’ve said across various interviews that children are voiceless, and photos help give them a voice. How do you believe that photos/ visuals impact change? How can you use images as an advocacy tool to impact refugee/immigration policies across the world?

Muhammed Muheisen: I personally believe if something happened it has never been documented, it never occurred. What I mean is, by focusing on some issues and putting it out there the least that could happen is it will open people hearts and minds, create awareness and sometimes change stereotypes. In my personal experience as a photojournalist some of my images managed to help the subjects. I was approached by several people from different parts of the world to help the people I have photographed. We live in what I call the digital period, in a second, through social media platforms, like Instagram, you can reach hundreds of thousands of people. There is a straight contact with the public so these images become messages, become voices that I hope it can leads to change and help our theme at Everyday Refugees Foundation.