Author(s): Zalmaï Ahad
In early 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis had been displaced from their homes as a result of the war. While nearly half were uprooted internally, the remaining citizens escaped to neighboring countries. The New York Times called the escalating crisis, "the largest exodus since the mass migrations associated with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948." Today, the situation of most refugees remains dire; months and years into forced flight, many are running out of money, food and the good will of their hosts. In Silent Exodus, Kabul-born, Switzerland-based photographer Zalmai chronicles the plight of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; over the course of several trips in 2007, he interviewed them, collected their individual stories and photographed them in their homes, where many remain in uncertainty. Although frequently harassed by neighbors, they are still afraid to return to Iraq, given the instability and violence that lingers there. Rarely told and under-reported, this is a human story which deserves a wider audience. Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns contributes an introduction to the work.