Refugees who live in Ukraine and Canada have become the heroes of photos presented in Kharkiv Maidan Svobody since yesterday.
Before that, the exhibition was shown in Kyiv and Dnipro and it will go further to Odessa and Lviv on August 20.
The three organizers — Charity Foundation “Right to Protection,” UN Refugee Agency and Embassy of Canada — state they wanted to tell Ukrainians about refugees’ life and hopes by appealing to the viewers’ emotions. “Some people were crying at our exhibition while reading the stirring stories,” the “Right to Protection” representative says.
The exposition dedicated to the World Refugee Day shows the life stories of the people from different parts of the world who were forced to abandon their homes by military conflicts, political or religious oppression.
“Our primary purpose is to make Ukrainians more tolerant to the refugees, to show they are not somehow dangerous or different,” says the Head of the UN Refugee Agency Office in Kharkiv Vartan Muradyan. “People should become more compassionate to the foreigners who are looking for a shelter in Ukraine and provide them equal opportunities for living and working here.”
According to Vartan Muradyan, over 300 refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Africa, Central Asia, Sudan and Iraq currently stay in the region.
Although due to the war in Donbas, the number of internal migrants in Kharkiv is incomparably bigger — about 300,000, — the organizers from Right to Protection think the refugees face more hardships, from legal to cultural, than internally displaced persons. Therefore the exhibition is focused on their problems this time. However, both internal migrants and refugees are deserving compassion as they need to live and love. They should not be rejected by the society.
Vartan Muradyan claims that since the war in Ukraine has started, the local people have become more sympathetic and tolerant to the refugees. However, for the recent two years, obtaining official refugee status and help has become more complicated due to the economic situation worsening.
The exhibition is also focused on the 150th anniversary of Canada that is a leader in hosting refugees. The exhibition organizers are sure that Canadian practice of hosting refugees and integrating them in the society is efficient and needs to be promoted and implemented all over the world.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: UNHCR Ukraine, Charity Foundation “Right to Protection”, Kharkiv Observer