Photo exposition #FacesOfConflict – fascinating portraits of people affected by the conflict In the Donbass region
Since February 2015, Première Urgence Internationale teams have been implementing projects in Eastern Ukraine aimed to provide emergency health care as well as to strengthen access to quality health/mental healthcare services and water infrastructures. Thanks to the support of the European Commission Directorate General for Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA/USAID), the organization was able to develop a photo project that gives residents of conflict-affected areas the opportunity to explain what does it really mean to live close to the ‘’line of contact’’. The purpose of this project was also to highlight how COVID-19 has created an additional pressure on these people who are still confronted on a daily basis with the consequences of the ongoing conflict.
Première Urgence Internationale invited a talented Ukrainian photographer born in the Donbass Region to explore the theme of the conflict through the prism of art. Sergey Korovayny commented his experience: “Although we mostly visited people in hospitals and mercy homes supported by Première Urgence Internationale, we talked about many different things. I managed to find a spark in them; they told me about their feelings, how they felt when the sun came up, the fact that they still felt alive. Also, many people are happy that the situation has been calmer since the summer. I felt as well that they did not think about the war so much, because it was too painful. When they talked about it, some of them started to cry. The wounds are still tender. People live from day to day. And now, with COVID-19, I can only imagine the increase level of stress they have to deal with since their lives were shattered by the war. On the other hand, all the people who received help from our NGO were extremely grateful, especially those with reduced mobility. This broke the ice for the project and photographing them turned into metaphorical conversation between us. The incredible hope that helps them to go through such terrible conditions was truly surprising and inspiring. I really hope that this campaign will help Première Urgence Internationale to continue its remarkable work in Donetsk region.”
According to Flavie Papon, the Head of Mission of our organization in Ukraine, “it was also important to remember that behind the figures illustrating civilian casualties there are also human beings”, “that’s why sharing portraits and voices of fellow Donbass citizens to other Ukrainians and the general audience is crucial.”
After being presented in Paris, the photo exhibition will be accessible for free during 2 weeks in Kyiv from June 02, 2021. The exhibition combines 2 formats: an exhibition of photo portraits and documentary videos. Both formats were successfully utilized to capture fears and hopes of the courageous people still living under bullets.
In Ukraine, in France and internationally, Premiere Urgence Internationale hopes that this project will draw attention to the conflict in Ukraine which entered in 2021 in its seventh year of existence. The general public needs to be reminded that this conflict is anything but frozen and that there are still more than 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the East part of the country.