​magnum and amnesty international partner to raise awareness of the refugee crisis

The photo agency and humanitarian organization curate a new exhibition that calls for the UK to take more responsibility for refugees.

by Felix Petty
06 December 2016, 2:48pm

Stenkovac. Refugee camp. Macedonia,1999 © Cristina Garcia Rodero / Magnum Photos

Few events have defined the year (and the last few) like the refugee crisis. It might've been eclipsed by specters of Brexit and Trump, but both rightward lurches are not entirely isolated or indivisible from the crisis, brought on by conflict and turmoil around the world. The crisis has produced striking, shocking, and saddening imagery, from the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean to the Jungle in Calais. Who can forget the photograph that shocked Europe into empathy (albeit brief) — the picture of the dead body of Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach? Or, more recently, works by Harley Weir, who captured with sensitivity and beauty the homes and landscapes of the Jungle before it was bulldozed? Recent works by Ai Weiwei — arguably the most famous artist in the world — have been devoted to capturing the stories of those who've made their way to Europe in search of a better life.

Isikveren Camp. Kurdish fleeing northern Iraq arrive at the refugee camp. Over 250.000 Kurds fled from Iraq after a bitter counter attack by Saddam HUSSEIN in northern Iraq. They now live in the mountains on the Turkish border. TURKEY. Uludere. 1991 © Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos 

But these stories of migration and displacement are, unfortunately, nothing new. It's always pertinent to remind ourselves of the times the world has been shook by similar crises, and of the times the world has responded with open arms and hearts. This the subject of a new project and exhibition organized by photo agency Magnum and humanitarian organization Amnesty International. Called I Welcome, the show opens at the Southbank Centre tomorrow. The exhibition collates together over 70 years of Magnum's reportage from the frontlines. The exhibition, in Magnum's words, aims to give a "visual representation of the scale of international displacement since the end of World War II, putting a human face to the statistics and news stories."

Refugees from the civil war areas. Waiting for this unfamiliar stuff, UNICEF milk (reconstituted from powdered milk) distributed for the first time at the refugee camp. Ioannina, Greece 1948 © David Seymour (Chim)/Magnum Photos 

It combines recent photos from Syria and Libya with images from conflicts across the world. There earliest images document the immense movement of people at the end of the Second World War, counterpointing images of Greece then with images of Greece now. There's images from Iraq, Vietnam, Chechnya, Yugoslavia. Each photo is a little window in the lives of others, illuminating the many reasons people are forced to flee their homes. Amnesty's I Welcome project aims to shine the spotlight on the British Government and ask it to do more to help those in need. In a world where the tabloid press is all too eager to dehumanize refugees, exhibitions and projects like this — that remind us of the human stories that make up the refugee crisis — are all too necessary.

I Welcome, an Amnesty International and Magnum Photos exhibition of photographs of refugee crises past and present, is on view December 7-18, 2016.

Refugees In the desert. The Sha-alaan One camp, is the worst camp. They have orderly food lines with thousands of refugees waiting calmly for food distribution from the CHARITAS charity organization. Jordan,1990 © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos 

Syrian families, mostly from Aleppo, are placed in a refugee camp in Vasariste near the Serbian- Hungarian border. After a day to recover, they will walk and attempt to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border. The migrants, mostly from the Middle East but also from as far as Afghanistan, are aiming to get to Serbia, the last country that stands between them and a European Union member state, Hungary. SERBIA. Vasariste. August 12, 2015 © Jerome Sessini / Magnum Photos 

A family stands on what is left of their home. SYRIA. Kobani / Kobane (Arabic: Ayn al Arab). 06 August 2015. © Lorenzo Meloni/Magnum Photos 

The battle for Saigon. Refugees under fire. Confused urban warfare was such that Americans were shooting their staunchest supporters. VIETNAM, 1968. © Philip Jones Griffiths/Magnum Photos 


Text Felix Petty
Images courtesy Magnum 

Amnesty International