June 20 is World Refugee Day. As a salute to the indomitable spirit, courage and strength of refugees, UNHCR Representation in Cyprus is organizing in June 2009 an open air photographic exhibition with the theme “Refugees: Real People, Real Needs”. Every picture and every face has its own unique story behind. Behind the unmet needs of refugees, there are real people with personal stories of tragedy, courage and compassion.
Faced with unabated violence, terrible human rights and humanitarian law abuses in their homelands millions of people are left without any other option than to flee while those who stay behind have to die or live in constant fear of their lives. After embarking on perilous journeys in the sea or land, the challenge for those who make it into another country seeking protection is to start a new life, free from fear and oppression. Prejudices and negative stereotypes from the part of the hosting society will only exacerbate their plight. Receiving them as mere numbers, as a burden and at times as a threat cannot be the answer. Instead, giving them the opportunity to become part of the new society can only be beneficial for both refugees and the local society.
As financial times toughen, the hardest hit is on the most vulnerable groups, including refugees, who risk amongst other, higher levels of unreceptive attitudes. Now more than ever the need to inform and sensitize the public is present and calls for action. By putting a face behind the unknown masses of refugees, the exhibition will foster understanding and knowledge without which prejudices and wrongly built stereotypes will only get more enrooted.
The photos to be exhibited will mainly consist of a selection of the most impressive winning photos of World Press Photo (WPP) depicting situations which create refugees. WPP is an independent non-profit organization based in Amsterdam organizing the world’s largest and most prestigious annual press photography contest.
Also, a small selection of photos from the photographic exhibition “Protection: What Refugees Need” - launched last June at the House of Parliament – will also be exhibited. Last year’s exhibition, consists of photos depicting people from all sectors of the society – known and unknown - making the “protecting hand” sign (symbolizing their commitment and support towards the worlds most vulnerable and at the same time making UNHCR’s logo widely known and synonymous with refugee protection) as well as photos of Internally Displaced Cypriots.
The exhibition will commence on June 20 and will be hosted in Ledra street in Nicosia until 10 July 2009. The exhibition will then travel to:
- Limassol (by the sea front) from 11 until 31 July,
- Pafos in front to of the Archaeological Park along the Marina from 1 until 17 August
- Larnaca (by the sea front – Foinikoudes) from 18 August until September 4.