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An Intimate Look At The World's Refugee Crisis

Five famous photographers put a face on an alarming problem that impacts some 60 million people worldwide.

  • <p>Say Tha Mar Gyi, Myanmar, 2015: A. cooks in her family home in Say Tha Mar Gyi Camp. She is married, but her husband left her within the last year to return to his family. ©Lynsey Addario</p>
  • <p>Lesbos, Greece, 2015: A father celebrates his family’s safe passage to Lesbos after a stormy crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey. ©Tom Stoddart</p>
  • <p>Mbile reufgee site, Cameroon, 2015: Young Ibrahima has spent his entire life in Mbile. When his mother, Hawa, fled the Central African Republic, she had to make the long, difficult journey while pregnant. They still have no news of his father’s whereabouts. Hawa hopes that Ibrahima will get an education and look after her in her old age. ©Omar Victor Diop</p>
  • <p>Buenaventura, Colombia, 2015: Children in Puente Nayero play an improvised game of table football. The success of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space has encouraged residents on the neighboring street of Punta Icaco to begin organizing to create their own humanitarian space. ©Graciela Iturbide</p>
  • <p>New York, New York, 2016: New Americans—Portraits of refugees who have recently resettled in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. From left to right: Bhimal, 42, Bhutan; Maryna, 27, Belarus; Patricia, 22, Democratic Republic of the Congo. ©Martin Schoeller</p>
  • <p>Berlin, Germany, 2015: Briali Muhaghgh, his wife Hanifa and their children attempted the difficult sea crossing from Turkey to Lesbos in two boats, but Hanifa’s craft ran into trouble. Briali and his eight-year-old daughter, Roya, landed on Lesbos convinced that Hanifa and the other three children had died. Still, Briali and Roya pressed on. After learning that the others were alive, Briali paid the smugglers again and reunited the family in Berlin. ©Tom Stoddart</p>
  • <p>Near Berkasovo, Serbia, 2015: A mother carries her daughter across the border between Serbia and Croatia. ©Tom Stoddart</p>
  • <p>Slovenia, 2015: After arriving by train at Središče ob Dravi, Slovenia, a mother and baby wait for buses provided by the Slovenian authorities to take them further along their journey towards Western Europe. ©Tom Stoddart</p>
  • 01 /13

    Say Tha Mar Gyi, Myanmar, 2015: A. cooks in her family home in Say Tha Mar Gyi Camp. She is married, but her husband left her within the last year to return to his family. ©Lynsey Addario

  • 02 /13

    Lesbos, Greece, 2015: A father celebrates his family’s safe passage to Lesbos after a stormy crossing over the Aegean Sea from Turkey. ©Tom Stoddart

  • 03 /13
  • 04 /13

    Mbile reufgee site, Cameroon, 2015: Young Ibrahima has spent his entire life in Mbile. When his mother, Hawa, fled the Central African Republic, she had to make the long, difficult journey while pregnant. They still have no news of his father’s whereabouts. Hawa hopes that Ibrahima will get an education and look after her in her old age. ©Omar Victor Diop

  • 05 /13
  • 06 /13

    Buenaventura, Colombia, 2015: Children in Puente Nayero play an improvised game of table football. The success of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space has encouraged residents on the neighboring street of Punta Icaco to begin organizing to create their own humanitarian space. ©Graciela Iturbide

  • 07 /13
  • 08 /13

    New York, New York, 2016: New Americans—Portraits of refugees who have recently resettled in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. From left to right: Bhimal, 42, Bhutan; Maryna, 27, Belarus; Patricia, 22, Democratic Republic of the Congo. ©Martin Schoeller

  • 09 /13

    Berlin, Germany, 2015: Briali Muhaghgh, his wife Hanifa and their children attempted the difficult sea crossing from Turkey to Lesbos in two boats, but Hanifa’s craft ran into trouble. Briali and his eight-year-old daughter, Roya, landed on Lesbos convinced that Hanifa and the other three children had died. Still, Briali and Roya pressed on. After learning that the others were alive, Briali paid the smugglers again and reunited the family in Berlin. ©Tom Stoddart

  • 10 /13

    Near Berkasovo, Serbia, 2015: A mother carries her daughter across the border between Serbia and Croatia. ©Tom Stoddart

  • 11 /13

    Slovenia, 2015: After arriving by train at Središče ob Dravi, Slovenia, a mother and baby wait for buses provided by the Slovenian authorities to take them further along their journey towards Western Europe. ©Tom Stoddart

  • 12 /13
  • 13 /13

Thanks to the effects of war, economic instability, and climate change, the world is currently enduring the worst refugee crisis since World War II. According to annual figures released from the United Nations, there are almost 60 million refugees and internally displaced people around the globe right now. To put that in perspective, that's one in every 122 people, or about how many Americans would be displaced if everyone living in California and Texas found themselves suddenly homeless.

Not that you could tell the scope of the problem from the world community's often heartless response to the problem. To shed light on the world's displaced, LA's Annenberg Space for Photography is hosting Refugee, an exhibition that explores the lives of refugees around the world in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

New Americans: Portraits of refugees who have recently resettled in the United States as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. From left to right: Bhimal, 42, Bhutan; Maryna, 27, Belarus; Patricia, 22, Democratic Republic of the Congo.© Martin Schoeller

In all, five photographers took part in the project. Pulitzer Prize-winning human rights photographer Lynsey Addario aimed her lens at the Rohingya Muslims, a disenfranchised group called the "boat people" by the media who are fleeing systemic violence within predominantly Buddhist Myanmar to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Fashion photographer Omar Victor Diop, meanwhile, created colorful portraits of refugee mothers and their babies who escaped from the Central African Republic to Cameroon. Martin Schoeller, a New Yorker staff photographer known for his hyper-detailed close ups, shot the faces of resettled refugees here in the U.S. in his signature style. British photojournalist Tom Stoddart embedded himself in smugglers' boats to shoot the journey of refugees fleeing from Syria to Europe. And finally, Graciela Iturbide turned her lens on the families in Colombia who have been displaced by guerilla warfare and cartel violence.

Although the photographers approached very different groups with their signature styles, the common thread linking all their works is humanity in the face of tragedy. Some politicians (ahem) might think there's a difference between Americans and the dispossessed beyond mere circumstance, but if there is, the objectivity of glass and celluloid doesn't see it.

Refugee will be on exhibition until August 21.

All Photos: courtesy Annenberg Space for Photography. Installation Photos: Imeh Bryant

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