SOMETIMES Hekmatullah, a 32-year-old Afghan, has to choose between food and connectivity. “I need to stay in touch with my wife back home,” he says, sitting in a grubby tent in the Oinofyta migrant camp, near Athens. Because Wi-Fi rarely works there, he has to buy mobile-phone credit. And that means he and his fellow travellers—his sister, her friend and five children—sometimes go hungry.
Such stories are common in migrant camps: according to UNHCR, the UN’s agency for refugees, refugees can easily spend a third of their disposable income on staying connected. In a camp near the French city of Dunkirk, where mostly Iraqi refugees live until they manage to get on a truck to Britain, many walk for miles to find free Wi-Fi: according to NGOs working there, the French authorities, reluctant to make the camp seem permanent, have stopped them providing internet connections. Some of the residents buy pricey SIM cards brought over from Britain, where buyers need not show an ID, as they must in France. A lucky few get airtime donations from charities such as “Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced People”.
The gardens by Piazza Venezia in the middle of Rome are normally used as a rest stop by tired tourists. In recent weeks, they have instead become home to weary asylum seekers, evicted from a building in Rome that they had illegally occupied for years.
At dawn on Monday, the police came to evict the group once again, this time from a makeshift camp, forcibly removing a tent and cardboard boxes used for bedding.
“We’re all looking for a little bit of shelter,” said Saba, 30, who asked that her full name not be published for fear of running further afoul of the authorities. “They say we have to disappear, but where will we go?”
“Take any crisis that makes the headlines — the flow of refugees in the Middle East, Europe and the Horn of Africa; outbreaks of deadly or devastating viruses such as Ebola or Zika; drought emergencies in Ethiopiaand Malawi. Does journalism help to explain them? Or solve them?
These questions were asked at the Polis conference of the London School of Economics on 21 April. The day focused on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. And the title, Journalism and Crisis, was meant to reflect both the humanitarian crisis and the crisis in reporting brought about by the digital age — the “leaps in technical capability”, new finance structures and explosion of social media power that Columbia School of Journalism director Emily Bell powerfully charts.
This double meaning reverberated throughout the day’s discussions. And looking at how the refugee crisis is reported was revealing of the state of journalism. But this is not merely about journalistic self-reflection or navel-gazing. It’s about the difference journalism makes to how societies deal with crises.”
These migrant workers travel wherever they can find employment. Some just for a season before returning home, others from city to city or country to country constantly looking for work. The photojournalist Irving Villegas has been documenting the lives of seasonal workers in different countries
Every year about 270,000 workers come to Germany for the asparagus harvest, most of them from Poland and Romania. Without these people, it would be impossible to reap the crop because most unemployed Germans are not willing to do the job. They work every day for 10 hours, starting at 5am. They earn 27 to 57 cents for each kilo harvested depending on the size of the asparagus
In the grass, lying in the shade of a tree, a woman takes a 10-minute break. Her room key is hung around her neck so she doesn’t lose it
The field work in the sun, rain and cold in Fuhrberg, near Hanover, is backbreaking.
“The artist Francis Alÿs is exploring the idea of a film about children playing in the refugee camps he visited in northern Iraq at the end of February. The Belgian-born, Mexico City-based artist was on his first research trip to the region, where he filmed and took photographs of children playing games such as marbles and hopscotch in Camp Kabarto and Camp Shariya.
Kabarto is home to 5,000 families, mainly from the Yazidi sect, who were forced to flee when Islamic State attacked Sinjar in 2014. It is estimated that 3,300 Yazidi families (17,000 people) from Sinjar are living in Camp Shariya.
The Baghdad-based Ruya Foundation invited Alÿs to visit Iraq to explore the possibility of creating a work about the refugee camps as part of Creativity for Survival, a wider project and series of workshops run by the foundation in response to the humanitarian crisis. Before visiting the camps, Alÿs hosted a workshop with artists and art students in Baghdad.”
“The conflict in Syria has left 6.5 million people internally displaced and created more than 2.2 million refugees. The bulk are living in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, where the demands on humanitarian agencies and host governments are huge. Helping relieve this burden is the application of smart technologies.”
Click here to read about some of the innovations helping aid workers plan and deliver a better and more dignified response.
Set in the Domiz Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq, Refugee Republic uses a mixture of illustration, photography, moving image, recorded sound and text to give viewers insight into the daily lives of the camp’s 58,000 refugees.
The online experience was designed by Dutch agency Submarine Channel – a producer of web documentaries and motion comics – who lived in the camp alongside the refugees while creating the project.
After the introduction, a labelled illustrated map appears that can be zoomed into. By clicking on parts of the map, viewers can explore different streets of the camp.
Using the arrow keys or scrolling allows users to “walk” through illustrated recreations of the roads, and experience ambient sounds, photo essays, audio recordings and footage of typical everyday activities – such as people praying at the mosque.
Mohamad drives with one hand, squinting at the afternoon sun as his phone rings for the fifth time in the past half an hour. The lanky 25-year-old Syrian shrugs the mobile to his ear with one shoulder, scribbling numbers on a Post-it as he repeats them out loud: “$1,000 to Tripoli; $200 to Hiba’s family; $300 to Umm Hanan; $10,000 for the operation.”
Mohamad is part of a Syrian volunteer team trying to fill the massive gaps left by inadequate international aid. Its 40-plus members — they’re not affiliated with or themselves an NGO to avoid red tape — raise money via social media from private donors who are mostly Syrian expatriates in Europe, America, and the Gulf for refugees without access to UN or NGO aid in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.
Their media team is all female, five Syrians living in the Gulf who receive case descriptions and publicize them on the group’s Facebook page. Donations are organized from Amman and sent via Paypal or Western Union to field workers like Mohamad who pick up the cash, distribute it, take photos to use in subsequent fundraising, and report back. There’s no physical office in Lebanon. Instead, the team coordinates everything via Facebook.
Everyone on the team is a refugee. Their average age is 25. Many fled Syria alone. No one gets paid.
“”In America” is not literally autobiographical (the real Frankie was Sheridan’s brother, who died at 10), but it is intensely personal. It’s not the typical story of turn-of-the-century immigrants facing prejudice and struggle, but a modern story, set in the 1980s and involving new sets of problems, such as racism and the drug addiction in the building and the neighborhood. It is also about the way poverty humiliates those who have always prided themselves on being able to cope. […]”In America” is not unsentimental about its new arrivals (the movie has a warm heart and frankly wants to move us), but it is perceptive about the countless ways in which it is hard to be poor and a stranger in a new land.” (Read more from Robert Ebert)