“Dear World”: Photos Capture Syrian Refugee Voices

“Dear World”: Photos Capture Syrian Refugee Voices

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To give Syrian refugees a louder voice amid a conflict whose political dimensions draw most of the world’s attention, American photographers Robert Fogarty and Ben Reece first gave them felt-tip markers. The refugees eagerly wrote messages to world leaders on their arms and hands. Then Reece and Fogarty, who travelled with CARE to Jordan in September 2013, photographed them.

The resulting portrait images capture a raw range of emotions – fear, anger, confusion, pain, grief and, crucially, hope. They include Muhammad, whose simple message is “I am not a terrorist.” A refugee child asks, “When shall we return?” And a CARE refugee volunteer who fled his war-torn country says: “Hand in hand, we build the world.”

Reece and Fogarty have grabbed headlines for photographing survivors of Hurricane Sandy in New York and of other natural disasters in an ongoing project called “Dear World.” The photos Reece and Fogarty took with in Jordan, where more than half a million Syrian refugees are currently living, capture the seldom-heard voices of innocent victims of Syria’s civil war, which has raged for over two years.

This was my first project chronicling an overseas conflict. I think the images show the dignity of normal Syrians who’ve had their lives turned upside down by events. They had something to say and, by writing their messages, they had a voice. This is the human face of the Syrian war. These people are just like us. They have dreams and fears. They want to protect their families, have a roof over their head and have hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

- Robert Fogarty

The trip was hosted by CARE, which is helping over 110,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan alone. CARE provides emergency cash grants so refugees can buy food, pay rent and heating bills, seek medical care, and purchase household essentials such as cookware and clothing.

Salam Kanaan, CARE Jordan Country Director, said: “The suffering that Syrian refugees endure is appalling and heartbreaking. Through this project we wanted to highlight the voices of ordinary, innocent men, women and children whose lives have been devastated by this conflict. We hope these pictures with their simple messages make the world sit up and take notice.”

Click here to view the photo gallery

Special thanks to broadcast journalist Dunia Kamal, Aliyah Sarkar, and Zainab Al-Aqraa of CARE Jordan for their invaluable help with the “Dear World” Syrian refugee photo project.

Huda, 11, was injured by a bomb blast. Her message simply says “I want the life I had back”