• Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Sadiq Khan opens refugee week exhibition

The People Move project portrays individuals who have moved to the UK in photographs taken by Philip Coburn

Participants in the Refugee Week People Move project with Sadiq Khan. (Photo: Greater London Authority)

By: Pramod Thomas

LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan has opened an exhibition of photographs celebrating the lives of refugees to mark refugee week from 19 to 25 June.

A Ukrainian doctor, a Kindertransport survivor and a girl who fled the Taliban are among those captured in photographs taken by Philip Coburn, a photographer for the Daily Mirror who survived a bomb attack in Afghanistan, a statement said.

Opening the exhibition, Khan said he was proud City Hall was continuing London’s tradition of offering sanctuary for those fleeing conflict, natural disasters and persecution.

He added: “Tragically, the horrific events that occurred off the Greek coast last Wednesday provide yet another heart-breaking reminder of the risks that many vulnerable people take in the search for a more secure future.

“By deepening our compassion for people seeking refuge and asylum, we set an example for the rest of the world as we build a fairer London for all.”

Sadiq Khan speaks to participants in People Move. Credit Greater London Authority
Sadiq Khan speaks to participants in People Move. (Photo: Greater London Authority)

The exhibition is at City Hall until Friday (23), and the project can also be accessed online at PeopleMove_ on Instagram.

The People Move project portrays individuals who have moved to the UK, in many cases as refugees, and the objects they brought with them, in photographs taken by Coburn.

Started in Refugee Week 2022 on Instagram, the project has celebrated a hundred people and their journeys, but this will be the first physical exhibition of Coburn’s work, the statement added.

Coburn, who grew up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said: “Because I was injured, it makes you more sensitive to other people who have suffered. Being Irish, I’m also part of a great tradition of diaspora.

“People have pre-conceptions about immigrants and forget about some of the exceptional people who have come here and want to contribute.”

As a war photographer, Coburn has seen the conditions that many of his subjects are fleeing, while trips to Calais brought him face to face with Iranian families trying to survive in the mud.

He hopes the exhibition will encourage visitors to put themselves in the shoes of those forced to leave their home:

“All our ancestors have been migrants at some stage. I think we should just treat people as best we can,”said Coburn.

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