Thursday, 10 March 2011

NYT: Paolo Pellegrin's The Exodus From Libya

Photo © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum-Courtesy The New York Times
The New York Times just featured a photo essay titled Scenes From The Libyan Exodus of Paolo Pellegrin's splendid black & white photographs made in Ras Ajdir of immigrant workers fleeing the erupting violence in Libya, and streaming into Tunisia. This is one the best photo essays I've seen out of Libya.

It reports that some 75,000 migrant workers, mostly male Egyptians, were trying to pass through the checkpoints that separate Libya and Tunisia, overwhelming the latter country's meager infrastructure.

I chose Pellegrin's above photograph to feature along this post because, in my view, it's the most powerful of the lot. Perhaps it's the sight of the Egyptian passport in the hand of the migrant that influenced me. After all, I had one just like that years ago.

Pellegrin's is quoted as saying that while Ras Ajdir is desperate, it “isn’t a panic in the terms of what we saw in Kosovo or the scenes of Congo, with women and children. These are all able men.

Thankfully for these men, that's entirely true, but let's not lose sight that each of these migrants supports an extended family in Egypt where the current situation is difficult...and returning home to a long period of non-existent employment will cause significant difficulties for them and for their country.