Refugees in Lebanon use photography to show real life in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp

London, UK, 19 August 2019 – To mark World Humanitarian Day, Canon Europe and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are showcasing photos taken by five young refugees documenting what life is really like in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.

Image produced by Ahmad, 21, Ein el-Helweh

Image produced by Hala, 19, Ein el-Helweh

The photos are a result of an ICRC/Canon collaborative project that uses photography to provide the participants with a valuable skill to generate income in future and at the same time enhance their resilience and positive coping mechanism.

Through photography, the participants told the stories that were important to them and showed the reality of their everyday lives, helping to highlight the importance of local perspective in expanding the current narrative around communities’ experience of conflict.

The partnership between Canon’s Young People Programme, which gives young people across EMEA a voice on issues relevant to them, and the ICRC’s Ideas Box initiative, that provides recreational education activities to refugees, started back in May 2018.  The initial project involved 13 young people in Lebanon who were given cameras and trained by photographer Alvaro Zavala; the latest one started in November 2018 and saw five young refugees receive training with professional photographer Patrick Baz to learn about the art of visual storytelling.

“The young people have a message to pass to the world to show what’s going on here, what their life and this refugee camp is really about, and that violence is not always an answer,” said Patrick Baz. “Throughout my career, I’ve helped local photographers tell their own stories because in this industry, there is a tendency to tell others’ stories.”

Nayla El Eid from the ICRC explained: “Seeing the group grow and develop, both in a personal and a technical sense, has been incredible, and we hope to see it continue. Several of the participants are planning to return as paid volunteers for future projects, and we’re currently looking to support them in starting businesses and finding full-time jobs.”

To help share the participants’ stories with the rest of the world, their work will be exhibited at the prestigious Visa pour l’Image photo festival in Perpignan, France, between the 31st August and the 15th September. Alongside the exhibition there will also be a panel discussion on Friday 6th September, ‘Unfiltered’, which will discuss the importance of using local photographers to document stories within their own communities.