Tagged identity

Phones are now indispensable for refugees

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”.

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The refugee crisis captured in haunting detail using infrared cameras

The Irish artist spent two years capturing the journeys of migrants into Europe using the camera, which can detect a human body from 30km and identify an individual from 6.3km. As the equipment is subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Mosse hired lawyers to obtain an export document for each trip. “The camera was designed to control borders and target the enemy,” says Mosse, 36, who lives in New York and County Clare, Ireland. “By using it to tell the refugee crisis, I’m putting viewers in a state of discomfort to disorient them.”

The resulting work, titled Incoming, will be exhibited at the Barbican from today. It’s remarkably intimate, even if using military equipment has its challenges: “It’s operated through a laptop, so when you’re switching tabs, you suddenly realise the Henri Cartier-Bresson ‘decisive moment’ was 10 minutes ago.”

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Emigration Museum in Gdynia, Poland

“The history of departures from the Polish lands is hundreds of years old. People traveled to different parts of the world for sustenance, in search of freedom, or for a different life. After Poland regained its independence, this situation remained unchanged. The journey was tackled on foot, by rail, aboard ships or – later – airplanes. After Poland joined the European Union, emigration became the experience of a generation of millions of young Poles. Today, almost everyone knows someone who chose emigration.

Gdynia is witnessing the birth of the first museum in the country dedicated to the history of Polish emigration. From the initiative of the city’s authorities, the historical edifice of the Marine Station – which witnessed the departures of Polish ocean liners for decades – is now seeing the birth of an institution which will recount the migrations and fates of Poles in the world in close connection to the modernity. The history of emigration is being written every day. Its multiple dimensions will be presented through our permanent exhibition.

The mission of the Emigration Museum in Poland is to recount the fates of millions of both anonymous and famous people – whose names emerge in the context of great achievements in science, sports, business, and the arts. It is the ambition of this institution to make them known to Poles at home, but it is also to encourage our compatriots living at home and abroad to get to know each other. Through educational and cultural projects, the museum hopes to become a place of encounter and discussion.”

Visit the Museum’s website here.

Syrian Refugees Recreate Destroyed Monuments to Always Remember Their Culturally Rich Architecture

“From a vantage point here in Za’atari, a group of Syrian artists have taken it upon themselves to recreate miniature models of the monuments that have been ruined. In efforts to combat the feelings of outrage and helplessness, these painstaking recreations serve as an act of defiance. The original sites may be have been destroyed, but that does not mean that the citizens’ rich history must be completely lost and forgotten.

In an interview with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Mahmoud Hariri, an art teacher and painter from Syria, explained: “This is a way for them not to forget. As artists, we have an important role to play. A lot of what we know about ancient civilizations or prehistoric people is preserved through their art—Egyptian hieroglyphs or cave paintings.” The replicas are created using whatever materials the artists have on hand—from clay and rock to kebab skewers and discarded wood. Despite the makeshift fabrication, the resulting models are beautiful in their ability to symbolize a peoples’ determination…”

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Songs of the Syrian Refugees

“With his brow furrowed in concentration, Abu Abdullah rhythmically strums his oud, exploring the core of a melancholic melody. Mohamad Isa Almaziodi’s robust and melismatic voice soars above, full of emotional ornamentation – sighing and repeating, rising and falling – until he runs out of breath and the phrase is forced to finish. In his song, Mohamad is singing about how strange life is, how harsh the nights are: ‘Oh this life is so strange… our home became very far. Very far.’ But before he can finish, he is overcome by homesickness and with his head in his hands, he cries. He is crying for his beloved country and for the father he left behind.

Abu and Mohamad are residents of Zaatari, a refugee camp located just a few kilometres east of Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border. Originally established as a temporary settlement in July 2012 for Syrians fleeing the civil war, Zaatari is now home to an estimated 79,000 refugees and stretches over five square kilometres.”

Read more on Songlines or read coverage in The Guardian

[Text Source: Songlines on YouTube]

Greece’s Cemetery for Unknown Migrant Dead

From Reuters:

“The marble plaques in this makeshift cemetery on the Greek island of Lesbos mark the graves of unknown refugees and migrants. Many of the those buried here were from the Middle East — all of them drowned in the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe’s shores. Their headstones bear no names … mute reminders of the human toll of the migrant crisis.”


America and Australia Rooms

America and Australia Rooms
Institute of Migration, Finland
Permanent Collection

“America Room: What made people to move across the Atlantic Ocean? What was it like to travel a hundred years ago? What was life like in the new home country? What is Finnish American identity today? Completely renewed exhibition about Finns in America shows off the treasures of the Institute’s archive. Learn about the hardships and joys of the emigrant life and see original documents, items and photographs left behind.

Australia Room: The Australia Room consists of items of Finnish Australian emigrant Leo Fabritius, who liked to catch snakes, play the violin and build ships inside bottles. The room also introduces Herman Dietrich Spöring from Turku, who sailed in Oceania with Captain James Cook during the years between 1768 to 1771, being one of the first Europeans there.”

For full descriptions and more information, visit the Institute of Migration.