The long trip to Europe from the refugees' perspective
A boy who is soaking wet, volunteers entertaining children, moments of danger and of joy: #RefugeeCameras shows images taken during the journey to Europe. It is the subject of a new exhibition in Hamburg.
Zakaria received his camera on December 8 in Izmir, Turkey - one of the key hubs for refugees. The Syrian fled from the "Islamic State" terror militia and the government, according to McElvaney's #RefugeeCamera project. Out of safety concerns, Zakaria doesn't name his hometown. In his flight diary, Zakaria writes that only God knows if he will ever be able to return to Syria.
Zakaria documented his sea journey from Turkey to Chios. He was sitting in the back of his dinghy. At the Hamburg exhibition, which opens this weekend, the refugees' images will be complemented by a selection of shots taken by professionals, who helped to shape the representation of escape routes in the media. They all donated their works in order to support the project.
Hamza and Abdulmonem, both from Syria, photographed the perilous landing of their dinghy on a Greek island. There were no volunteers to offer them support. That is exactly what McElvaney had in mind when he launched #RefugeeCameras. So far, he says, the media have offered a "visual blank" in this respect.
After the landing, a young boy in wet clothes and life jacket stands on the pebbled beach. The image brings to mind Aylan Kurdi, the small Syrian boy whose lifeless body was washed ashore on a Turkish beach in September. The child in this picture made it to Europe alive. What became of him is not known.
Hamza and Abdulmonem also took this slightly blurred snapshot of the refugee group taking a break. McElvaney handed out 15 disposable cameras in total. Seven of them were returned, one was lost, two were confiscated, two remain in Izmir, where their holders are still stranded. The remaining three cameras are unaccounted for - just like their owners.
Dyab, a math teacher from Syria, tried to capture some of the better moments of his journey to Germany. Pictured here are his wife and his young son, Kerim, who shows us the packet of biscuits he was given in a Macedonian refugee camp. The images reveal Dyab's deep affection for his son, McElvaney says: "He wants to take care of him, even on this arduous trip which he was forced to take."
The story of Saeed, from Iran, is a different one. The young man had to leave the country after converting to Christianity. He could have been arrested or even killed. In order to be accepted as a refugee, he pretended to be Afghan. After his arrival in Germany, he explained his situation to the authorities' satisfaction. He now lives - as an Iranian - in Hanau, Hesse.
Saeed took this picture of a Syrian father and his child on a bus from Athens to Idomeni.
In another snapshot taken by Saeed, a volunteer working in a refugee camp somewhere between Croatia and Slovenia entertains a group of children, who try to imitate his tricks.