London photo exhibitions to highlight refugee issues in Democratic Republic of the Congo

News Stories, 11 April 2007

The UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme will later this month open an exhibition in London of powerful images of displaced people and returnees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 11 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme will later this month open an exhibition in London of powerful images of displaced people and returnees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The exhibition, "Exposed and Hungry: Life in eastern Congo," will feature pictures by American freelance photographer Susan Schulman focusing on the issues of bringing shelter, protection and food to people in the volatile eastern regions of the DRC.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development, it will open on April 25 at the Oxo Tower Wharf in London's South Bank area. The exhibition will continue until May 13 and then move across the River Thames to the city's famous Royal Albert Hall from May 15-June 9.

The London-based Schulman took the photographs while on recent assignment for UNHCR and the World Food Programme and the two UN agencies hope the shows will raise awareness amongst Londoners and visitors to the UK capital of the plight of the displaced in the DRC, whose lives rarely feature in Britain's main media outlets.

The exhibition will recount some of the experiences of the displaced Congolese while in camps and in flight, and depict the emotions they feel when returning home and starting life anew. Schulman's work has featured in a wide range of international publications. Specialising in editorial and documentary work, she has worked with a number of humanitarian agencies.

An estimated 1.1 million Congolese are internally displaced in the DRC after fleeing their homes due to force or fear of force. They benefit from food and shelter through the operational partnership between the UNHCR and sister agencies like WFP. UNHCR and WFP also support the more than 400,000 Congolese refugees who still live in exile, mainly in neighbouring countries.

UNHCR is seeking US$47 million to support the return and reintegration this year of some 98,500 Congolese refugees and a further US$15 million to provide protection and assistance for an estimated 1.1 million internally displaced people.

Hilary Benn, the UK secretary of state for international development, during a visit to Kinshasa last September highlighted Britain's continued support for the DRC's fight against poverty and called for other international donors to increase humanitarian support.

"Misery and deprivation remain a fact of life for too many Congolese. The UK has increased its contribution to the UN's Action Plan designed to tackle these problems, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage other donors to do everything they can to meet the humanitarian challenges," he said at the time.