UNHCR, Annenberg photo exhibit highlights refugee grit
Renowned photographers Addario, Diop, Iturbide, Schoeller and Stoddart turn lenses on displacement crisis in landmark 'REFUGEE' show in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES, United States, April 21 (UNHCR) - The world's largest ever forced displacement crisis - which has seen 60 million people flee from war, conflict and persecution - has been thrown into sharp focus with the opening of a landmark photo exhibition by UNHCR and the Annenberg Foundation.
"The magnitude of the displacement crisis today is unlike anything we've ever seen," said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements after the launch of the REFUGEE exhibit late on Thursday (April 21) in Los Angeles. "The images capture at once both the scope of the crisis and the resilience and courage of mothers, children and fathers fleeing for their lives."
At 60 million, the number of those currently displaced worldwide is greater than at any time since World War II. Nearly 20 million of these are refugees and more than half are children. The conflict in Syria is the main driver of this global crisis, forcing more than 4.8 million Syrians to become refugees in its neighbouring countries alone, with more seeking safety further afield.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provided logistical support and collaborated with the Annenberg Foundation for the exhibition, which shows the growing displacement crisis through the lens of some of the world's most renowned photographers. It gives visitors insights into the plight of refugees, including their efforts to survive, their needs, their dreams and their hopes for a better future.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario highlights the situation of displaced people living in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Omar Victor Diop's work shows refugees from the Central African Republic in Cameroon while Graciela Iturbide throws into sharp focus the lives of young Central Americans seeking protection in Mexico.
Martin Schoeller, best-known for his close-up portraits of politicians and celebrities, has turned his lens on resettled refugees in the United States of America. Tom Stoddart focuses on men, women and children on the move in Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Germany.
"Through the eyes and lenses of these extraordinary artists - some of whom were commissioned to do their work specifically for this show - we see the deep humanity, the astonishing turmoil and triumph, that ought to define the way we look at the world's 60 million forcibly displaced people," said Annenberg Foundation President Wallis Annenberg. "This work makes me think, it makes me feel. And isn't that what the very best art should do?"
The newly commissioned work by the photographers will run from April 23 until August 21, 2016 at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
By Brian Hansford in Los Angeles