Bite! magazine » There Are More Than Five Million Afghan Refugees

Postcards From London To Afghanistan by Poulomi Basu October 20, 2010

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3 Responses to “There Are More Than Five Million Afghan Refugees”
  1. sensitive & evocative…love it!

  2. Bite! magazine » There Are More Than Five Million Afghan Refugees…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  3. Beutiful and insightful work. Amazing!

About Poulomi Basu

Poulomi Basu’s photography draws inspiration from all mediums of fine art, world cinema and visual culture. Her photography explores the line between fine art and documentary, seeing beyond what is ‘outside’ the realm of mere observation. She likes to engage emotionally with her subjects to produce work that dwells with what is ‘inside us’, exploring how lives change and revolve around both how we see others and how we are.

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Artist Testimonial

There are more than five million Afghan refugees, mostly living in Pakistan and Iran. Some escape these countries and leave for Europe by putting their lives in the hands of people smugglers. Almost 70,000 refugees are believed to be in the UK, and a majority of which reside in London.

Some arrive safely, some get caught by authorities, and some die along the way. This treacherous journey involves passing through most of Europe where they travel by land – hiding in trucks and trains, and by sea –smuggled in tankers. The most popular route is from Pakistan to Iran to Tajikstan to Turkey to Russia to Germany to Calais in France and to Dover in the United Kingdom.

I met four such men who had taken this very route and now live in London. Hakim, Ali, Sohrab and Bashir work now in the market outside the Elephant and Castle shopping centre selling call cards, accessories, garments and electronic gadgets etc. Some of these ex Mujahideens were forced to leave their land in Afghanistan and people smuggled to England, a story that is not unknown to any of us.

This market has become their personal oasis. They work almost 50 metres from each other manning their stalls. Everyday they set up and dismantle their stalls. The monotony of this job doesn’t seem to get past them. There is no permanence to what they do and with a salary of 30-40 pounds per day for a 12-hour shift they earn less than the minimum wage.

This market could easily be a metaphor for what life is like for them. Impermanent, no sense of belonging or stability, no family yet they have come all the way here to a foreign country.

But they all know, that this is their home for now and forever. They know that they cannot go back. They have tried to recreate a little bit of home here and the peace that they get keeps them here.

This project is ongoing. I am trying to explore this relationship through motifs, spaces and objects that they have or created inside their homes to keep them alive in a foreign land and things they do to portray their life to their families back home and tell their stories as they are. These are stories of a men with a strong memory of their past events vis-à-vis their life now. A tale of the fragile gap between life in Afghanistan and London and how they make peace with what they left behind and what they have now.

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