For the past year, countless photographers have traveled to Iraq to take photos of Yezidi refugees fleeing from the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group. Thousands of Yezidis, all of whom are ethnically Kurdish, have found safe haven at refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the care of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Recently, a new group of photographers has begun taking photos of Yezidis at a Kurdish refugee camp in Dohuk. These photographers are not employed by the regular media outlets, but are part of a group of young Yezidi girls who live and attend school in the refugee camp.
Photography, Education for Girls
The girls are participating in a new program at the refugee camp in Dohuk. The program uses cameras that were donated by UNICEF, and instructs the girls on how to use the cameras properly. After getting trained, students are sent to complete photography projects by taking photos of their friends and families, as well as the surrounding community and refugee camp.
The program is giving young women more than skills in photography: A prerequisite for joining the photography program is that girls must attend the UNICEF-supported school in the refugee camp.
Inspiring Hope and Confidence
The photos tell a story about the Yezidi refugees that outside photographers may have never been able to access. The girls are finding themes of hope in a group that the international media has painted as broken by the Islamic State terrorists.
One Yezidi girl, named Safiya, was originally forbidden to attend school by her father, who feared for his daughter’s safety in a new and unknown environment. Safiya’s determination to join the photography program gave her the confidence to convince her father to let her join the UNICEF-supported school and receive an education. Another young girl in the program has decided to pursue photography as a career.
See samples of the powerful photos below, and keep in mind that each of the photos were taken by girls aged 14-19: