Over the last two years, I have chronicled the personal costs of psychological and physical violence against refugees and asylum seekers. Working across Europe, in Greece, Italy, Hungary, Iceland and Serbia, I have documented the psychological harm that refugees suffer as they wait for their status to be cleared and endure the impenetrability of bureaucracy, detention and physical violence.
My focus has been the personal costs of violence but now I want to take this project further and capture the other side to this story and investigate why violence is taking place. With your support, I would be able to travel to Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia, countries where violence and anti-refugee sentiment run high and produce a body of work that investigates the links between violence, anti-refugee sentiment, rising nationalism and xenophobia.
I want to tell the stories of the people living in these areas, to demonstrate how hate is being manufactured through incessant fear of terrorism, loss of cultural identity as well as the manipulation of economic and job insecurity. And by recording the economic and social factors that are fuelling the emergence of paramilitary and vigilantes groups, nationalistic parades and far-right movements, I hope to be able to provoke society to ask more soul-searching questions about the factors facilitating violence against refugees. I will be investigating the growing attraction of the borders hunters in Hungary and Bulgaria (violent paramilitary groups exclusively dedicated to patrol the borders and catching refugees). At the same time, I plan to visually document the security measures put in place by governments that are erecting expensive border fences, increasing militarisation and accelerating the use of detention. All in the name of safeguarding people from refugees’, who are nearly always associated with terrorism. In the process, restricting civil liberties, feeding racism and impacting in extremely negative ways on our geopolitical environments.
This is something that I feel so strongly about that I have, in the past, largely self-financed my trips. The purpose of this new project is to bring a wider perspective to the issue of violence against refugees and asylum-seekers. This violence must stop. It is an intolerable injustice that needs to be told; the human suffering recorded and challenged.
The way I would like to do this is to present the dual narratives outlined above in a touring exhibition which will have one side the stories of refugees and asylum-seekers, the victims of violence, and on the other, the stories of those that directly or indirectly are inflicting the violence upon them. I am hoping that the touring exhibition will help generate reflection and awareness and a deep understanding of the various layers surrounding migration and and understanding that violence is not the answer.
How you can help
By backing this campaign, you will enable me to spend four weeks in the Balkan region to continue and complete this project. I have already covered the costs for the preliminary research and made important connections that will assist me on the ground, including the International Rescue Team in Serbia, Amnesty International Hungary and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Despite having the support of these organisations, who can, for instance, help provide venues for the touring exhibition, the financing of the actual trip is down to me.
Your donation will assist me with the cost of travel to Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia, the cost of travelling inside these countries, basic living expenses and the hiring of a fixer for a total of four weeks.
Your contribution will make this a reality. And you will also help move me closer to my goal of making visible this human injustice through various exhibitions across Europe. Accompanying this, a dedicated immersive website, complete with articles, interviews and visual content from the project, will be created. A section of this website will also be open to refugees and asylum seekers willing to share their experiences of border crossing. The exhibition will open in Hungary next year and it is endorsed by Amnesty International Hungary.
The future of the project
I hope that exhibiting Hate Hurts in various venues across Europe will add leverage to all those advocating that the EU must commit itself to a more solid, just and moral approach that ensures security and safety for asylum-seekers. The aim is also to support movement for change by encouraging greater awareness among the wider public of the contributing factors surrounding the anti-refugees narrative and generating a more positive response towards migration.
Refugees and asylum seekers face violence from the moment they try to cross one of Europe's borders, when they wait for formal protection. The EU's continuous failure to handle the flow of refugees has only increased violence, push-backs (illegal practice of forcibly sending back asylum seekers once they cross a border) and abusive practices by organised criminals, those with links to the far right and institutional violence, most often carried out by European government’s own security forces. What it is often amiss in the general discourse on the 'refugee crisis' is how governments have tapped on the population's security, economic fears and cultural eradication to gain support towards nationalism, war, border controls and clampdown on civil liberties.
Why I work as a photojournalist...
Driven by my early life experiences, which were marked by difficult circumstances, I have chosen the path of telling the stories of those been suppressed or marginalised. I always wanted to be a photojournalist since I was very young. I seek to advocate with my work and have done so in various projects addressing economic oppression, identity based violence, prejudice and marginalisation. I tend to work on long term projects, often collaborating with NGO's, charities and voluntary organisations. Among my more recent work is
*'The Other Half', a project focusing on the issue of hidden homelessness in women and their children in the UK.
*'Prejudice and us', collecting stories on the impact of prejudice in the lives of young people in London.
I have also worked on projects documenting the illegal coal mining industry in China and the plight of Roma populations in the Balkans. Since I began the project Hate Hurts I collaborated with Amnesty International Greece, PeriDirittiUmani, UNHCR and Amnesty International Hungary.
Risks and challenges
Having worked in Hungary and Bulgaria before, I have an understanding of the possible risks that I may encounter and how to minimise and overcome them. My methodology is dynamic and flexible thus I adapt and respond quickly to the unexpected and working with it in a fluid manner. In other words, the objective remains fixed and the means to achieve it will allows changes if necessary . The money raised from the campaign will go towards expenses such as covering the flights, translator, accommodation and living expenses. I have over 12 years experience working in the industry, covering complex documentary and investigate stories and I am driven by the passion for the subject I am covering. This project has been my prime focus in the last two years and I will continue to expand and develop it as I am determined to make a significant difference. I hope you will join me on this journey.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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