‘LIVES IN TRANSITION: EXPRESSIONS OF REFUGEE YOUTH’ AT HEADQUARTERS, 28 JULY – 30 SEPTEMBER

2 August 2004
Note No. 5879

‘LIVES IN TRANSITION: EXPRESSIONS OF REFUGEE YOUTH’ AT HEADQUARTERS, 28 JULY – 30 SEPTEMBER

02/08/2004
Press Release
Note No. 5879


Note to Correspondents


‘LIVES IN TRANSITION:  EXPRESSIONS OF REFUGEE YOUTH’


AT HEADQUARTERS, 28 JULY – 30 SEPTEMBER


A multimedia exhibition of artworks by young refugees from around the world opened at the United Nations on Wednesday, 28 July 2004.  The exhibition “Lives in Transition:  Expressions of Refugee Youth” features more than 70 photographs, as well as writings, recordings and quilts by refugee youth from Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Iraq, Somalia, the Sudan and Togo.


Lives in Transition, created by the AjA Project, a San Diego-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing innovative media arts and photography-based educational programs for refugee youth, in partnership with National Geographic and co-sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will be exhibited at UN General Assembly Building Visitors Lobby until 30 September 2004.


“Whether the story involves losing one’s parents to paramilitaries in Colombia, barely surviving attacks by the Burmese military regime, or making shoes instead of going to school in Afghanistan, these narratives and images are testimonies to the world’s ongoing human rights abuses, as well as pieces of living history that deserve public awareness”, said Shinpei Takeda, AjA Project Director.


The participatory photography programmes developed and implemented by the AjA Project provide a unique means for self-discovery.  Refugee youth have the opportunity to explore and document their experiences.  The photographs on display offer a glimpse into the challenge of coping with war and asylum faced by these refugee students.


“I think it helps to have these kinds of pictures because we can relate more to people that are around our age and stories that come into these pictures than if we were to see it on the news and if we were to see what is going on in these countries, we can’t really tell how the people actually feel.  Now we know”, said Jennie Richardson, a young visitor to the exhibition.


By providing cameras and other visual media tools, The AjA Project’s programmes empower refugee and displaced youth to control how they are viewed and represented, as active, important and equal members of the global community.  Furthermore, by exhibiting students’ work in venues from Bogotá to Bangkok, AjA works to educate people about the realities faced by refugee youth.


According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, out of an estimated 17 million refugees, displaced persons and other vulnerable groups around the world today, some 50 per cent are children.


For further information please contact:  Shin Takeda, The AjA Project, tel.: 619-405-2742, Web site: www.ajaproject.org; or Yusuf Hassan, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees New York, tel.: 212-963-6904, e-mail: yhassan@tmo.blackberry.net.


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For information media. Not an official record.