Project Location: Asia, Africa, Middle East, Caucasus
At the end of World War II, the full scale of Nazi atrocities against European civilians, and the abuse of U.S. prisoners of war in Japanese internment camps were revealed.
These horrors prompted the international community to take a firm stance against the worst excesses of war; the Nuremberg trials saw Nazi war criminals held accountable for their actions, and the Geneva Conventions were signed to make sure that these inhumanities would never happen again. But as history has made clear, these measures are not enough. The Rwandan Genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, the United States’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Daesh’s [ISIS] persecution of Yazidis, Kurds and Syrians – without witnesses to bring the world’s attention to these atrocities many of them would stay buried, those responsible would never be held to account, and more innocent blood would be spilled.
My intention is to silently go back in the war zones and live with people for 12 to 14 months in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Caucasus, in order to witness and photographically document the daily life of unarmed men, women and children. As we have been witnessing so far, civilians are continuously targets of wars that have little to do with them; since political and ideological enemies have not yet found a way to solve their disagreements without bloodshed.
There are rights for the civilians, and those are guaranteed with international conventions, which the majority of countries and states have agreed and are obligated to respect. But this respect does not stop bullets. Just in the recent civil war in Syria, there have been more than 200,000 unarmed men, women and children targeted and killed by either government or insurgent armed forces. This is because, despite the lofty aims of legislations, war crimes are rarely investigated adequately, and war criminals are rarely held to account.
This project will bring photographic evidence of ongoing breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and these pictures and video will be used as a tool to pressure the UN and other policy leaders to enforce these laws. One of the project’s goals is to trigger the creation of a possible safe-entry of International Humanitarian organisations, such as IRC, UNHCR, UNICEF ect; people who would not just be able to observe and collect evidence, but who would also take steps to ensure the safety of unarmed and unprotected men, women and children. This would alleviate the so called ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe, as well as undermine the forces which encourage people to fight in any conflict.
Recently many governments are expressing their concerns that members of armed groups and terrorist organisations are entering the European Union as refugees. While these claims are often unfounded, there is an undeniable danger of this happening. With the proper enforcement of IHL, the International Community would be able create safe zones within conflict zones; allowing them to vet people in Internationally Displaced People Camps for possible terrorist connections. Thus making it difficult, if not impossible, for terrorists to enter the EU, undetected. If they enter EU undetected they will manage to penetrate other continents undetected too.
Creating UN controlled buffer zones in war torn territories will help to return the rule of law to these places, and will undermine the slow of human personnel resource to armed groups. This will bring a step closer to put an end to the armed conflict, as well as allowing humanitarian aid to be brought to towns and villages besieged by fighters or government forces, like the very recent case in Syria’s Madaya.
With International Humanitarian Organisations’ joining the campaign to enforce International Humanitarian Law in war torn territories, unarmed and unprotected civilians will be made significantly safer. Additionally media personnel will gain safer access, and will be able to properly and comprehensively witness and report what is happening there. This would not just benefit the civilians who are trapped between bombs, bullets and political rhetoric, but it will also give us a chance to trigger debates and open discussions about certain on-going armed conflicts. A vital precursor to hold into account, those fueling war with weapons and money.
PUBLICISING! — Throughout my journey, at least once in a month I will be writing and publishing a photo-reportage in my own journals through my official project Facebook and Twitter page, as well as personal Facebook and Twitter public pages.
Short word about me: For five years it’s been my job to witness, document and report the realities of war as a photojournalist. My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Associated Press, AFP/GettyImages and Der Spiegel, among others. Most recently I worked in Syria, acting as a voice to the voiceless for unprotected men, women, and children embroiled in the bloody war. Now I’m preparing to travel into the midst of war again, but I need your help.
In total, I need around £18,500 to continue my work. This money will go towards materials – such as decent photography and video equipment, a flak jacket, helmet, and gas mask – as well as health and life insurance, travel funds, fees for translators, ground transportation, accommodation and security escorts, and so on. I will have to manage to live in war torn territories from 12 to 14 months with this amount of money. Please Donate!