The human face of the refugee crisis – Giles Duley exhibition hosted by EESC

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Following up on its work on refugees and migration, the EESC is hosting 27th April – 20th May an exhibition by Giles Duley, the internationally recognised photojournalist and former war correspondent, which portrays the stories of the many men, women and children who are crossing the Mediterranean sea and arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Giles Duley is a British documentary photographer and photojournalist, well known for his photography of humanitarian issues and the consequences of conflict. The exhibition is the result of cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, aiming to highlight the human element of the refugee crisis. The EESC is hosting the exhibition alongside its upcoming Strategic Framework on refugees and migration 2016-2018, and following its recent fact-finding missions on the refugee crisis.

Opening the event, Georges Dassis, EESC President, said: "effective external border controls are an essential prerequisite, but border security must not lead to the rejection of those who need protection for humanitarian reasons." Speaking about refugees, he declared "they should not be seen as a threat but as an opportunity for the European economic and social model. But public support for the reception of refugees is an essential prerequisite".

In his turn, Giles Duley declared: "The photos speak for themselves - there is no way that this should have been allowed to happen. I was shocked & overwhelmed by what I saw. I see myself as a storyteller. But stories only have power if people listen and act on them. Actions have ripples, and we must believe we have impact and take action."

"These photos give voices to the voiceless and faces to numbers", stated Sophie Magennis, Head of the Policy and Legal Support Unit at UNHCR's Bureau for Europe, and continued "the refugee situation in Europe is challenging but manageable, only with coordinated efforts. We need to see the completion of a genuine Common European Asylum System with real solidarity".

Mr Duley's personal life experience has inspired his humanitarian work; he was severely injured whilst following his passion of photography in Afghanistan. The injury did not affect his determination to return to photography. His previous exhibition "One Second of Light" portrays the devastating human cost of conflict.

      from left to right: EESC Vice President Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, SOC Section President Pavel Trantina, photo journalist Giles Duley, Group II Member Peter Schmidt