Syrian Refugees by James Nachtwey

Za'atari Camp, in Jordan, run by UNHCR for refugees from war in Syria.
James Nachtwey for TIME
December 2013. Za'atari refugee camp, Jordan. Syrian boys carry their daily bread ration supplied by the World Food Programme.

The state of being a refugee is temporary, in theory, but without a place to go back to — a nation, a city, a home — limbo begins to look permanent, a designated space carved out of someone else’s country, where the basic needs of physical survival might be provided, but the rights of citizenship are forfeit, and human aspirations lose both their means and their direction.

Refugees are not only sequestered in space, they are incarcerated in time, walled-in between a past that’s been obliterated and a future that no longer exists. But things can get worse. Intense suffering from disease and starvation can render strictures of time and space merely negligible, and what might have been purgatory becomes a living hell. With the refugees from Syria, thankfully, that is not the case.

The international community has responded. Neighboring countries, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, have extended hospitality and NGO’s have organized food, shelter, water and medical assistance. And people have each other. Whole communities have been uprooted and have managed to stay together. But will they ever be able to safely return to Syria? If they cannot return, then how will the rest of the world accommodate not only their basic survival, but meet the challenge of establishing new citizenship, and the opportunities for self-determination inherent in that responsibility, rather than accepting the creation of another stateless people?


James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer, documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues.


Related Topics: , , , ,

Latest Posts

Stephen Shore at Andy Warhol's Factory

Stephen Shore: Defacto Photographer of Andy Warhol’s Factory

A rare look inside Andy Warhol's Factory, shot by an 18-year-old Stephen Shore, whose exposure to the legendary pop artist would inform his own career as a legendary photographer

Read More
Ar'Juan Mason, 17.SwagSwag is the way you present and carry yourself. I guess you can say my generation is more of the flashy type. Where I grew up and live now a lot of people around are all about shoes, it comes off almost mandatory to have the most recent shoes or something better.

Cause Beautiful: Hipstamatic Aims to Empower Young People

A group of volunteers inform residents about Ebola and a lockdown in the Brookfield neighborhood of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sept. 19, 2014.

Photojournalism Links Daily Digest: Sept. 23, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,542 other followers