Participatory photography empowers young Syrians as peace-builders; launched by Catholic migration body

(Photo: From "Through a Different Lens" book)Syrian refugee children photographed by themselves in an empowering photographic project.

It was appropriate for the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) to launch its "Through a Different Lens" photographic exhibition on Syrian refugees, the day before World Refugee Day, June 20.

"Through a Different Lens" features compelling photographs and stories by Syrian refugee children and youths living in Jordan using participatory photography to empower young Syrians as peace-builders in Jordan.

The launch of the book of photographers was on June 19 as the bitter Syrian conflict was in its seventh year with peace still elusive and Joran alone with 600,000 refugees.

"Through A Different Lens" features compelling photographs and stories by Syrian refugee children and youths living in Mafraq, Jordan, providing unique insights into their lives and worldview.

World Refugee Day 2018 was chosen to commemorate the courage and resilience of refugees worldwide, of which this book is a beautiful testament.

Earlier in the day the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, had released an annual report noting the due to multiple ongoing displacement crises and several new ones that characterized 2017 with the global population of forcibly displaced people increasing to 68.5 million, compared with 65.6 million in 2016.

"Significant new displacement, affecting millions of people, was seen in particular from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Myanmar as well as continuing displacement due to the Syrian crisis," said UNHCR.

The welcome was given by Monsignor Robert J. Vitillo, Secretary General of the ICMC with remarks given by Ambassador Sally Mansfield, Australia's head of mission at the United Nations in Geneva.

The book was presented by Amira Kalboneh, the ICMC's Protection Field Manager in Jordan and Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the representative of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva.

The book launch was followed by an informal reception supplied by a refugee-run catering company, Cuisine Lab, after the photo exhibition showcased some of the photos and stories from the book.

One 14-yeard-old participant spoke about a photo titled: Sharing peace.

"This picture represents safety, comfort and love. My friend hugged me spontaneously and it was caught on camera.

"I love the look on my friend's face as she looks very calm. I believe peace can be given, and she gave me peace when she hugged me. I believe it is only when you find peace inside yourself that you can start to work on peace outside yourself, in the world."

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