Following the killing of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, 2,257,573 refugees (40 percent of the population) took asylum in 36 countries. In 2012 when Tuareg rebels in Mali captured Timbuktu after an army coup, 297,552 refugees (2 percent of the population) settled in 28 asylum countries. These are just a fraction of the world’s refugee population being documented on a dynamic new website, The Refugee Project, an example of how graphic designers increasingly are turning their attention to framing data that stimulates action.
While data visualization will not end the refugee problem, the designers at Brooklyn-based graphics firm Hyperakt think they can make some difference by developing a tool that decision makers can use to advocate for humanitarian relief.
“Our own lack of knowledge about the millions of people around the world who have been forced to leave their homelands led us to want to tackle this story,” Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt’s creative director, said. “We thought it would be very helpful to visualize and compare all the refugee crises happening around the world—and not just for this year, but over time. We also wanted to have an understanding of the causes behind massive migrations.”
Read more. [Image: The Refugee Project]
KILIS, Turkey and JARABULUS, Syria — Malek, a 46-year-old Syrian farmer who lives outside the Kilis refugee camp in a litter-infested lot, asked me, “Will our suffering last long?” He, along with 200 refugees, most families, fled to Turkey after Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack in August.
These are grueling times for Syrian refugees. Since March 2011, when the peaceful protests began, more than two million Syrians have fled, seeking asylum in one of four neighboring countries — Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq — and leading to an increasingly unsustainable burden on these nations. Malek, who has a young son, asked, “All of the international community is working against us. Are we all animals? Is there no humanity?” He believes that this failure of foreign governments to assist the refugees has allowed Assad to “use us as wood for the fire in Syria.”
He breaks down in tears as he talks about the plight of his family and his countrymen.
Malek’s story is not an anomaly. On the Syrian side of the Jarabulus border crossing with the Turkish town of Karkamis, an unconscious rebel soldier is rushed by on a gurney, his severely disfigured face possibly the result of the intense clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (know inside Syria by its abbreviation ISIS) and pro-Western rebel groups. The al-Qaeda-linked ISIS reigns over Jarabulus, Syria, and aims to impose a Sharia-based Islamic state on the population.
Read more. [Image: Umit Bektas/Reuters]
India is at the center of several nations undergoing massive change, but it’s struggling to cope with its growing refugee populations.
With no jobs and no way out, some Palestinian and Syrian refugees turn to “survival sex” — or are forced to do so.
Read more. [Image: Ali Hashisho/Reuters]
MOGADISHU, Somalia — At certain points, Mogadishu, longtime synonym for anarchy, terrorism, and urban warfare, is indistinguishable from many other cities in the developing world. Along Maka Al-Mukarama road, a former front line during Somalia’s civil war years, new storefronts and sidewalks have turned the few remaining stripped or sandbagged buildings into isolated novelties, relics of a conflict that the city seems eager to leave behind.
In the avenue’s median strip, there’s a single, toppled solar-powered street lamp, a recent victim of the jihadi militant group Al Shabaab. But scores of others are still standing—towering, brand-new, and functional. Even in the former government quarter, where the bombed-out shells of former embassies and ministry buildings are still walled over with sandbags, there’s evidence of a tentative recovery. So while the Turkish embassy might have been bombed a few days before my arrival in Mogadishu, the country is still going ahead with a handsome new complex in the devastated Lido Beach area, far from the heavily-guarded green zone where much of Somalia’s international diplomacy currently takes place. The embassy is in an early stage of construction, but its concrete frame rises high above the ruins surrounding it. Along the oceanfront, where the destruction is almost total, there are now freshly paved sidewalks lining streets without a single habitable building. Two years earlier, when Al Shabaab and an African Union peacekeeping force fought for control of the city, a visit to the oceanfront would have been out of the question—and so would even the modest infrastructural improvements I witnessed. Even at its most pulverized, Mogadishu hints at its potential recovery.
Read more. [Image: Armin Rosen]
Ala, 13, sits in his wheelchair, shifting uncomfortably from side to side. His father lies on a bed next to him. He looks worn. The skin under his eyes sags. There are four other children in the room, all of them recovering from injuries caused by bombs dropped by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Unlike many of the patients in the makeshift rehabilitation center in Reyhanli, Turkey, Ala has all of his limbs.
It does not feel like it, he says. His arms and legs are attached to his body, but it’s hard for him to move them. Ala was playing soccer in the streets with his friends last month when a bomb fell from the sky. Now he has a piece of shrapnel lodged into his upper neck, and it is pinching a nerve in his spine. He cannot walk or hold anything too tightly. His head bobs loosely from side to side when he answers questions.
"Friends? No I don’t have friends. Just them," Ala says, flailing his arm to the right, toward the other patients in the room.
Read more. [Image: Jake Naughton]
Twenty-one months after the conflict in Syria began as a popular uprising, rebel forces are making gains, tactics are changing, and the threat of chemical warfare has made an appearance. Syrian rebels reached a level of cooperation, forming a single entity — the Syrian National Coalition. The alliance has received recognition from Arab states and support from NATO members in its goal of unseating Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, and replacing his government. But U.S. intelligence reports have noted activity within Syrian government-controlled chemical weapons facilities, and President Barack Obama has warned that the use of such weapons against rebels would cross a “red line.” There are signs that al-Assad’s hold on power is slipping as rebels gain ground and support, and even Russia, a longtime ally, has reportedly sent ships to the Syrian coast for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens. Collected here are images of this bloody conflict from just the past few weeks.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]
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