BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 15 (UNHCR) – As part of its 60th anniversary activities, UNHCR has teamed up with the prestigious Magnum Photos to celebrate the lives of refugees and their impact on Europe over the past six decades.
The light show “60 Years, 60 Lives,” is appearing in cities across Europe as the annual World Refugee Day (June 20) approaches. It also pays tribute to the humanitarian achievements in Europe over the past 60 years.
The photos in the light show include six images of former refugees across Europe taken by Magnum photographers Antoine D’Agata and Moises Saman – one per decade. The remaining 54 images were provided by refugees who found sanctuary in Europe and each tells a story, condensed into one detail: the violin brought from home, their first document as a refugee, a family snap.
Venues for the light show include the façade of Malta’s Fort St. Angelo, the Museumsquartier in Vienna and the Metro system in Rome as well as bars and restaurants in Brussels.
A special showing is planned for members of the European Council and senior European Union officials in the Belgian capital, while thousands of children from around the world will get to see “60 Years, 60 Lives” during the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden later this year. The show will be projected against the EU Parliament building in Brussels tomorrow and on Monday.
Today, refugees and asylum-seekers are often portrayed in a negative light in Europe. Some politics and media refer to refugees as a burden or a security threat. “This project aims at reframing the asylum debate. Tens of million of Europeans today are the children and grandchildren of refugees,” said Melita Sunjic, UNHCR’s spokesperson in Brussels.
The history of Europe as a safe haven for refugees is told in more detail on a special web site created by UNHCR and Magnum Photos and launched on Wednesday. The site includes details about the refugees depicted in the photographs, such as company director and former Vietnamese boat person Hien Kieu in the Netherlands and Aida Hadzuahmetovic, who found a safe haven in Slovenia after fleeing Sarajevo as a student in 1993.
Magnum is a cooperative photographic agency founded by legends Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour just three years before UNHCR in 1947. Magnum photographers have documented practically every refugee crisis that UNHCR has been involved in. Some of the most iconic Magnum pictures show refugees.