KATHMANDU: The Darfur horror, aftermaths of the yearlong internal conflict in Congo and subsequent dreadful status of Congolese refugees in the Mugunda camp; bitter expressions of refugees’ hoping to get rid of their nightmares; settlement of Bhutanese refugees in Europe and America and their contentment were some of the subject matters of the photo exhibition at Bhrikuti Mandap Exhibition Hall which started on June 20 with a view to observe World Refugee Day 2009. United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UN Refugee Agency based in Nepal organised the exhibition.
More than 90 photographs by nine national and international photojournalists are included in the exhibition. Edwin Koo, a Singaporean photojournalist currently based in Nepal has portrayed difficult life faced by Pakistani refugees where about 90 per cent of the 2.4 million Pakistanis displaced by the conflict zone rely on the mercy of their kin and friends for survival. Christian Als, a Danish photojournalist, has successfully exposed dreadful nightmares of the civilians residing in Congo who are forced to live a brutal life in the Mugunda camp, West of Goma. One of his photo captions read, “Biggest losers in the conflict are the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the middle.” Saifal Hug Omi, a photojournalist born in Bangladesh, has presented optimistic expressions of the status of Bhutanese refugees who mostly hail from Myanmar. Most of the refugees in his pictures seem happy but their agony is hidden behind their happiness, and as Omi himself says in one of his writings, ‘They (refugees) want to live life free from violence and exploitation.’
Then there are photos of Kashish Das Shrestha, photographer working out of Nepal and New York, representing the initial settlement of Bhutanese refugees in New York, USA. Kari Collins, a freelance photojournalist and multi-media producer, currently based in Kathmandu; Nayan Tara Gurung Kakshapati, documentary photographer; James Giambrone, photographer for WFP; Ashok R Shakya, a freelance photographer all from Kathmandu have portrayed the common theme- the status of Bhutanese refugees. While describing their status Shakya says in one of his writings, “As a photographer, I toured the camps in search of sadness but found hope. I searched for photogenic miseries but found bright eyes and easy smiles. I searched for fatalism but found a vibrant community. I looked for loneliness but found friendship. In Beldangi camp, I came across a wedding. Life carried on here.”
Zalmai Ahad, freelance photographer, has photos showing pathos of Afghan refugees. American ambassador to Nepal Nancy J Powell has captured Tibetan refugees in her photos, Some depict their pathos while others express hope.
Some people in the photos seemed to ask for benevolence while other photos manifested warlike situations. Some seemed to look forward to better days and praying to return to the paradise called ‘Home’.
The photo exhibition is on till June 24.