Our photo library in Geneva is the world's largest collection of refugee-related photos covering nearly all of the major displacements of the last 60 years. These images provide a comprehensive portrait of the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and the stateless in all corners of the globe, as well as the work of thousands of UN staff who have helped them. Most photos are showcased here and on Flickr. We offer the use of our photos free to the media - please just remember to credit us!
A Teenager in Exile
Added 31 Jul 2014
All photos: UNHCR/A. D’Amato
They fled their home with the rest of the family in the summer of 2012, after war threw their previously peaceful life into turmoil. From Turkey, they made several perilous attempts to enter Greece.
Finally, on their sixth attempt, the rest of the family crossed over at Evros. While his wife and two children travelled on to Germany, Fewaz headed to Athens to be reunited with Malak.
Until the family can be reunited, Malak and his father are determined to stick together. The boy is learning to get by in Greek. And Fewaz is starting to get used to his son’s haircut.
Like fathers and sons everywhere, Fewaz and Malak sometimes struggle to coexist. A new haircut and a sly cigarette are all it takes to raise tensions in the cramped apartment they currently call home. But, despite this, a powerful bond holds them together: refugees from Syria, they have been stranded for almost a year in an impoverished neighbourhood of Athens.
Thirteen-year-old Malak was the first to make it through the Evros border crossing. But Fewaz, his wife and their two other children were not so lucky at sea, spending their life savings on treacherous voyages on the Mediterranean only to be turned back by the Greek coastguard.
“When I finally saw my dad in Athens, I was so happy that words can’t describe,” says Malak. However, the teenager is haunted by the possibility of losing his father again. “I am afraid that if my dad is taken, what will I do without him?”
Rescue at Sea
Added 31 Jul 2014
All photos: UNHCR/A. D’Amato
Summer, with its fair weather and calmer seas, often brings an increase in the number of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean and seek asylum in Europe. But this year the numbers have grown by a staggering amount. In the month of June, the Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation picked up desperate passengers at a rate of more than 750 per day.
In the span of just six hours on 28 June, the crew rescued 1,171 people from four overcrowded boats. Over half were from war-torn Syrian, mostly families and large groups. Others came from Eritrea and Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Bangladesh and beyond. D’Amato’s images and the interviews that accompanied them are windows into the lives of people whose situation at home had become so precarious that they were willing to risk it all.
In late June, UNHCR photographer Alfredo D’Amato boarded the San Giorgio, an Italian naval ship taking part in the operation, to document the rescue process – including the first sighting of boats from a military helicopter, the passengers’ transfer to small rescue boats and then the mother ship, and finally their return to dry land in Puglia, Italy.
Added 17 Jul 2014
All photos: UNHCR / A. D’Amato
Like millions, 34-year-old Jihan was willing to risk everything in order to escape war-torn Syria and find safety for her family. Unlike most, she is blind.
After a treacherous voyage that lasted 45 hours, the family finally arrived at a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, called Milos – miles off course. Without support or assistance, they had to find their own way to Athens.
By now destitute and exhausted, the family were forced to split up – with Ashraf continuing the journey northwards in search of asylum and Jihan taking their two sons to Lavrion, an informal settlement about an hour’s drive from the Greek capital.
“We came here for a better life and to find people who might better understand our situation,” she says, sadly. “I am so upset when I see how little they do [understand].”
Nine months ago, she fled Damascus with her husband, Ashraf, 35, who is also losing his sight. Together with their two sons, they made their way to Turkey, boarding a boat with 40 others and setting out on the Mediterranean Sea. They hoped the journey would take eight hours. There was no guarantee they would make it alive.
The police detained them for four days upon their arrival. They were cautioned to stay out of Athens, as well as three other Greek cities, leaving them stranded.
Today, Jihan can only wait to be reunited with her husband, who has since been granted asylum in Denmark. The single room she shares with her two sons, Ahmed, 5, and Mohammad, 7, is tiny, and she worries about their education. Without an urgent, highly complex corneal transplant, her left eye will close forever.