SYRIA’S LOST GENERATION
In 2013 and 2014 I was invited by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees) to photograph Syrian refugees driven by civil war into Lebanon and surrounding host countries. The Syrian conflict, which has to date (2020) killed over 400,000 people and driven millions from their homes,. This conflict has become the largest humanitarian tragedy since World War ll. As I experienced this global crisis unfolding, I was transformed by the profound suffering and resilience on display.
Over the course of many months I photographed and conducted first-person audio recordings throughout Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, and in refugee camps in Kurdistan (Iraq) and Jordan. I was most compelled by the teenagers, who seemed particularly shell-shocked and bereft. These young Syrians were forced to flee, sometimes alone, or, if lucky, with their families. They saw their fathers and brothers shot, their mothers maimed by barrel bombs, and their homes and neighborhoods reduced to cinder and ash. In search of a safe shelter, they often moved from one wretched place to another. They haven’t been to school in years.Their friends and families are scattered to who knows where, maybe alive, maybe not.
Some of the Syrian teen portraits and audio recordings I captured portray a physics champion, a published poet, an artist, a mathematician, a religious scholar and a girl who simply misses the particular taste of her favorite food from home. Each spoke to me of powerful longing and frustration. They have nothing to do in exile, nothing to hope for, and no idea if or when they will ever go home again. The young men are torn between languishing in safety or returning to their dangerous, shattered country to search for work or fight. The girls dream of going back to school and living in the safety they once felt. With little opportunity to continue studies or find meaningful work, they all spoke about powerful longings and futures that now seem lost.
Fourteen photographs and voice recordings make up the series, Syria’s Lost Generation.