Desert Strom Photo Essay

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The Za’atari project was produced by Nina Berman and NOOR images, and photographed by Stanley Greene, Alixandra Fazzina, Andrea Bruce, and Nina Berman.

Clockwise from top: USAF F-15Es, F-16s, and a F-15C flying over burning Kuwaiti oil wells; British troops from the Staffordshire Regiment in Operation Granby; camera view from a Lockheed AC-130; the Highway of Death; M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle The Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes.

They questioned whether some of the images portrayed the camp, and by extension, the host country, in a negative light.

For example, a photo of a man holding up X-rays of injuries he had suffered in Syria could be mistaken for injuries received at the camp.

When escaping violence, refugees flee with what they can carry. So in addition to the creation of the security wall mural, our team of photographers turned one tent into a photo studio. The photo studio provided a neutral space where residents could momentarily escape their refugee status.

Refugees were invited to have their portraits taken alone or with someone—or something—they loved. Participants were treated as clients, not subjects. We printed hundreds of these portraits and distributed them for free on the spot.In late July 2012, the first Syrian families arrived at the Za’atari refugee camp, a barren strip of land twelve kilometers from the Syrian border and seventy kilometers from the Jordanian capital, Amman.At the time, Andrew Harper, UNHCR’s Country Representative in Jordan said, “We are the first to admit that it is a hot desolate location.But the majority of the nearly one hundred images still remain on the security wall today.They are discolored and frayed, washed out by the passage of time, yet the faces of the refugees are still discernible on the concrete slabs.The windswept camp had become Jordan’s fourth largest city, and UNHCR’s second largest camp after Dadaab in Kenya, currently home to about 328,000 displaced Somalis. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived by helicopter to visit the camp.Today, of the close to 700,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, Za’atari houses about 80,000 residents. Agence France-Presse photographer Mandel Ngan’s aerial photographs of Za’atari became the defining images of the visit.Another depicting the daily ritual of bread distribution could give the impression, authorities said, that everyone in the camp was poor and hungry.The pictures were designed to have a six-month life span.Nobody wants to put a family who has already suffered so much in a tent, in the desert, but we have no choice.” By the end of that summer, the camp housed over 28,000 refugees.In March 2013, 156,000 people were living in a space designed for 113,000.


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