The award-winning young Palestinian photographer Niraz Saied reflects on life in the war-torn refugee camp in Syria of Yarmouk. 23-year-old Saied was born and raised in Yarmouk refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The Syrian regime air strike that hit the camp on 16 December 2012 was a decisive moment in Niraz Saied’s life, as it was for the hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians and Syrians who lived in the camp.
Saied was not in the camp when the MiG fighter jet bombed Abd al-Qader al-Husseini mosque, but it was the airstrike, and the exodus and blockade that followed, which prompted him to return a few weeks later. Saied returned to the camp, armed with his camera.
He did not return to document the events but to narrate the camp’s untold stories through his camera lens.
This detail was precisely what Saied captured in his award-winning photograph “The Three Kings,” which received first prize in a 2014 photography competition organized by the European Union and UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. Saied took the picture in March 2014 when the siege was at its height.
This photograph together with others were displayed at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah last June.
Titled The Dream Lives On, the exhibition illustrates Saied’s view that Yarmouk is not merely a pile of stones and destroyed buildings; it also contains human beings who love, dream, struggle and persist.
Despite trying hard to remain optimistic, Saied believes that Yarmouk may never return to what it once was.
It is often repeated that the camp has been under full siege since July 2013 and that the camp has been cut off from water since 8 September 2014, and the human toll of this is massive, making everyday life a constant struggle.
Compilation of a text by Budour Youssef Hassan, December 17th at The Electronic Intifada. Budour Youssef Hassan is a Palestinian anarchist and law graduate based in occupied Jerusalem. She can be followed on Twitter: @Budour48.
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