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Christianity is on the edge of extinction in its birthplace, the Middle East.
Escaping sectarian violence, kidnappings, religious fatwas, economic hardship and severe persecution, the oldest Christian communities in the world are leaving the region.
Nowadays there are more Iraqi, Turkish and Palestinian Christians living in the Diaspora in Europe, the US or South America than in their native countries, while the current events in Egypt and Syria indicate a similar fate for its Christian population.

With the current speed of this Christian Exodus continuing, out of 12 million Christians in the middle East only 6 million will be left in the year 2020. It’s a real probability that within one generation Christianity, as a live religion and culture, will have vanished from the Middle East. I want to document this vanishing people and culture and record a historic process with severe political, economic and cultural consequences for the Middle East.

Christians have always been part of the intellectual and economic elite of Middle Eastern societies and their migration leads to a brain-drain, sided with the withdrew of financial assets and, equally important, cultural and intellectual force. This lack of resources will only accelerate the problems Middle East as a whole is facing and fuel the vicious circle of poverty, ill-education and extremist violence in the Region.

Working on the project since early 2011, I have repeatedly been to Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Gaza and Palestine. During this time I established a network of different NGOs, local churches and individuals that have helped me setting up contacts and logistics needed for this project.
To complete the project, thus to further depict the complexity of the phenomenon and to deepen its understanding, I will need to visit the Christian communities in the remaining countries of the Levant: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria.

 

Bio

Andy Spyra, born 1984 in Germany, is a freelance photographer currently based in Germany. He worked one year as a staff photographer for the local newspaper in his hometown before he became a freelance photographer. He’s working on assignments and personal longtermprojects in the Balkans and more recently in the middle East.

His Projects include a documentation of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir as well a four year long visual engagement with the aftermath of the genocide in Bosnia. Since 2011 he’s been working on a longtermproject about the christian exodus from the Middle East.

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Enri Canaj

Shadow In Greece

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The centre of Athens, as I first remember it, was full of life.

During the period before the Olympic Games, there was great development. New hotels appeared in order to host the visitors, shops, restaurants and cafes kept sprouting out, it was full of people everywhere. All this happened within a few years. It was as if the city put on new clothes. During the days of the Olympics, the city was clean and well-guarded. You would not see street- merchants, drug-addicts or immigrants, just tourists and people who came in order to have a good time. In my eyes, it looked like another place.

As time passed, the city started deteriorating and gradually recovered its previous character: the everyday life that we all knew, with the junkies, the street-merchants, the the immigrants and the prostitutes.

Time passes fast. The city is now fading. Some people abandon it due to the crisis. Many shops and hotels have shut down, the centre is now almost deserted. People fear they will get ripped-off, they hear that this happens all the time. They no longer feel like going out and wandering about like before. They even fear seeing all the poverty and destitution, they drug-users who will rip you off for their shot, the women prostituting themselves.

But for me, those people were always there. I found them all there when I first arrived as a 9-year old child. They were always there when I was growing up. They are somehow trapped in their lives, subsisting in terrible circumstances, in squalid houses with insufficient hygiene.

The immigrants live in small rooms that they rent, many of them together, without much hope. The women prostitute themselves even in the streets for 5€. You don’t want to run into them in the street. Yet, hanging around with them has been my daily routine. This way, it was easier to approach them. They are sensitive people with a lot of problems, with ruined families behind them. Sometimes they give the impression that no one has cared for them. As if they want someone to talk to, as if they want to get out of the misery they are in. For some of them I had the sense that they were almost looking for someone to open up to and take it all out. Like confessing. What made an impression on me was that they often opened up and talked as if they knew me. Sometimes they talked about difficult things, about what they were experiencing, as if they were talking about someone else. Almost as if they felt better this way.

I would only shoot when I sensed that they were more comfortable, after some time had passed. Sometimes, unexpected things happened, and made me change the plan I had in mind. Other times, things just happened spontaneously, and I was just following along. The images I have selected are stronger for me, because I know the story behind them.

I have been working on this project since 2011. My work is still in progress. When others looks at those pictures I want them to feel respect and dignity for the subjects. Like I do.

 

Bio:

Enri Canaj was born in Tirana, Albania, in 1980. He spent his early childhood there and moved with his family to Greece in 1991, immediately after the opening of the borders. He is based in Athens and covers stories in Greece and the Balkans.

He studied photography at the Leica Academy in Athens. In 2007 he took part in a British Council project on migration, attending a year-long workshop with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos.

Since 2008, he has been a freelance photographer for major publications such as Time Magazine Lightbox, Newsweek, Le monde Diplomatique (German edition),TO VIMA, TA NEA, Tachydromos and VIMAGAZINO. A sample of his work has been exhibited at the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece in Athens and Salonica, at the Bilgi Santral in Istanbul, the European Parliament in Brussels and the Athens Photo Festival.

He has been working in the Balkans, mainly Kosovo and Albania, as well as Greece, focusing on migration and the recent crisis.

 

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Enri Canaj

 

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The Reuters staff photographer Goran Tomasevic was with the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo and elsewhere, photographing the intense street combat as government forces sought to tamp the rebellion.

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Bedouin village in East Jerusalem 2011

Giuliano Camarda (b. 1978, Italy) is a freelance documentary photographer focusing on Palestinian-Israeli issues. He spent one year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, working on several projects related to the consequences of war in the Balkans. Giuliano also cover news and collaborates with humanitarian NGO’s as a photographer and photography teacher. He has been selected for the Manuel Rivera Ortiz Grant in 2011. His works have been published on National Geographic Italia, La Repubblica, Zoom Magazine, Witness Journal, among others.

About the Photograph:

“This picture was taken in the Bedouin village of Wadi Abu Hindi, one of the most difficult communities in the area of East Jerusalem. The village is nestled in the desert, between the biggest rubbish dump of Jerusalem (Abu Dis), a military area used by Israeli army for training, and the illegal settlement of Qedar. People of this area live in miserable shacks, without electricity or running water, grazing their sheep between debris, being subject to demolition and attacks by settlers. Despite this, the communities have shown determination and unbelievable resilience that led the Israeli military authorities to draw up a relocation plan last October. Ignoring the aspirations, needs, traditions and the system of relations inherent in the Bedouin culture, the plan provides the deportation and a forced establishment of the Jahalin tribe a  few meters far from the rubbish dump.”

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Emerging Photographer Fund – 2012 Recipient

 

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EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Matt Lutton

“Only Unity”: Serbia In The Aftermath of Yugoslavia

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“Only Unity” has emerged from five years of living and working in the Balkans; it is my personal response to the confounding atmosphere of the region. My project presents a psychological portrait of Serbs from across the Balkans as they confront a radically changed landscape within physically contracting borders. Serbia is emerging from the hangover of the 1990s, where atrocities were carried out in their name just across newborn borders, and constructive reflection about the consequences of those years is long over due.

I am photographing details of society that both reflect and undermine the popular Serbian creation myths. Many issues are rooted in the complicated phrase “Only Unity Saves the Serbs” which was popular in the narrative of mass political manipulation during the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars that took place in its vacuum. Serbia is still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of those years, leading to a national confusion about their identity and a productive path forward.

There are many elements that contribute to a hostile and sometimes desperate atmosphere in Serbia today. But there too are moments that show healing and a glimpse at a different future than many have seen for themselves in the last decade. The growing pains of this nascent democracy must continue to be carefully documented and explored, as the battles of the 1990s have yet to be finally played out. I’ve experienced alarming apathy and lack of compassion from many youth across the Balkans, and I hope to confront them directly with a different picture of the countries and history they will inherit. I hope my pictures will help bridge local borders, real and imagined.

 

Bio

Matt Lutton (b. 1984) is an American photographer who has been living in Belgrade, Serbia, since 2009. He was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies and Comparative History of Ideas. He is the co-founder of the online photojournalism website Dvafoto, which began in 2005. His project “Homeless in Seattle” was awarded a grant by the Alexia Foundation for World Peace in 2007 and was exhibited at the Seattle City Hall in July 2008. The Anthropographia Award for Human Rights and Photography selected his project “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” about the destruction and relocation of the Roma community living in Belgrade, Serbia, for their 2010 traveling exhibition. His current project about the Serbian emergence from the Milosevic decade and its role in post-war Balkans is titled “Only Unity” and was nominated for the POYi Emerging Vision Incentive in 2010.

 

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Laia Abril

A Bad Day

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A Bad Day‘ is a multimedia piece that approaches the struggle of bulimia and that is the first chapter of an ongoing long-term project about Eating Disorders. Jo is 21 and suffers from bulimia, a kind of eating disorder. Her obsession is not about being thin; it’s about not gaining weight, in spite of the huge amount of food that she ingests every day. Bulimia has taken all her time and money, and also her passion: dance. ‘If I was not bulimic I would be dancing like before’ Jo says. ‘But ballet is about elegance and perfection, and I’m a crap person in the middle of chaos’. She doesn’t look overweight and she hates her body and can’t see herself in leggings in front of a mirror anymore. She also thinks that her addiction is ‘disgusting’. That’s why she never told anyone ‘ not even her boyfriend ‘ about it. For some reason, she decided to open herself to me.

The project started, after a deep research, shooting for few weeks in November 2010, when I spent my days with Jo in her house in Edinburgh. I woke up with her and listened to her saying: ‘I hope this is going to be a good day’. With her I went to the supermarket and watched movies in her computer. I also saw her going through daily crisis, eating and vomiting immediately after. She confessed to me that she self-injures herself, specifically small cuts in her legs and feet. I saw her good days turning into very bad ones and I saw Jo acting in public as if everything was absolutely fine. And this is actually what this illness is all about, pretending that everything is all right while it’s not. An apparent normality that makes bulimia one of the hardest disorders to diagnose and a devastating killer of female teenagers and young adults worldwide.

The lies and misunderstandings that surround bulimia are what convinced me to further develop this project. I would like my images to catch the contradictory feelings and behaviors that these girls have to go through day after day. My approach is going to be intimate and psychological and will leave in the back the more physical manifestations of the of the disease.

 

Bio

Laia Abril, 25, is a documentary photographer raised in Barcelona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and studied photography at ICP in New York City. She began working on documentary projects in the Balkans, covering the 13th Funeral of Srebrenica and the Independence of Kosova, first for a Spanish NGO and then for Spanish newspapers. In 2009 and 2010 she was a finalist on the Ian Parry Award participating at the Getty Gallery in London first with her photo project about the young lesbian community in Brooklyn and then with the project ‘The Last Cabaret’ about a porno sex-life club in Barcelona. Her work has been featured in magazines including OjodePez, The Sunday Times magazine, DRepubblica, and COLORS magazine amongst others, and has been recognized with various scholarships. After spending two years at FABRICA (the Benetton research and communication center in Italy) she is currently working as a staff photographer, blogger and Associate Picture Editor for COLORS Magazine combining her freelance career and keeping developing her personal project.

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Laia Abril

A Bad Day multimedia

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The photographs in the gallery above are from the book Bosnia 1992 – 1995, available July 2012. The book will be self-published by the photographers who covered the Bosnian conflict—which began 20 years ago today—and printed in Bosnia. The captions below these photographs are the personal reflections of the photographers on their experiences in the region.

If the last lines of the 20th century were written in Moscow in December 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the prelude to the 21st century was written months later—and 20 years ago this month—in Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, as the disorderly break-up of Yugoslavia turned into genocide. In that bloody April, America’s moment of triumph over totalitarianism was transformed into a tribalist nightmare as Bosnian Serbs, determined to seize large parts of Bosnia as part of a plan to create a Greater Serbia, targeted Muslims for extermination. What some at the time hoped was just a communist death-rattle at the periphery of the Soviet empire, now looks like the birth cries of our current geopolitical reality.

In Bosnia the U.S. learned it would preside over a world where borders and ideology mattered less and transnational allegiances of ethnicity and sectarianism mattered more. Interviewed by TIME in August 1995, weeks after his troops had slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys near the town of Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, now on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, declared he was acting out of fear of a new Islamic push through the Balkans to Europe. “By this demographic explosion Muslims are overflowing not only the cradle of Christianity in the Balkans but have left their tracks even in the Pyrenees,” Mladic said.

As the slaughter unfolded in Bosnia, and Europe and the U.S. belatedly mustered the will to stop it, Western attitudes towards the post-Cold War world took shape, as well. Neoconservatives and hawkish Democrats found common cause in humanitarian intervention. The media and the public learned from the NATO action in August and September 1995 and the Dayton peace agreement in November that American military might could impose stability—for a time. But 20 years later, with international military and police forces still keeping the peace in Bosnia, we have found there—and at much greater cost elsewhere—that an initially successful intervention by America’s unmatched armed forces cannot impose sectarian comity.

Massimo Calabresi covered the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo as TIME’s Central Europe bureau chief from 1995 to 1999.

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World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. The day to recognize the importance of earth's most precious natural resource was proposed 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. While we often take water for granted, many cannot. And water plays a role in almost everything we do. We drink it, wash in it, play in it, generate power with it, irrigate crops with it, travel and transport goods on it, fight fires with it, and worship with it. Gathered here are images of water from the last year in all its uses, in scarcity and in abundance. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
A child bathes from a public tap in his neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 6, 2012. A UNICEF report says unhygienic conditions cause an estimated 1. 2 million child deaths before the age of five from diarrhea worldwide every year. The report says in urban areas access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with population growth. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

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Europe has been battling a deep freeze that started in late January and has killed hundreds, snow that has trapped thousands in Balkan mountain villages and prompted worries of flooding as heavy snow melts. In Greece and Bulgaria, flooding on Monday and Tuesday left dozens of homes under water and at least eight dead. Serbian [...]

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a37f4 VanessaWinship19 Vanessa Winship Photography
Vanessa Winship was born in England in 1960 y. She studied film and photography at Westminster University in London. Works in the genre of photojournalism. Almost all the pictures of Vanessa made ​​in Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Balkans.

9c3df VanessaWinship02 Vanessa Winship Photography

9c3df VanessaWinship01 Vanessa Winship Photography

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