For three years, Lynsey Addario chronicled the plight of Syrians fleeing the civil war which is now in its fifth year, reporting for The New York Times and the United Nations. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, some four million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the war and another 7.6 million are internally displaced.
The conflict in Syria between the government forces of Bashar al-Assad and opponents to the regime has led to an exodus, with people fleeing across the border to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and further afield.
By January 2011, there were rumors of teenage protestors being arrested, beaten and tortured for minor offenses such as writing anti-government graffiti. The Arab Spring was spreading. Small protests grew into mass demonstrations in Damascus and Aleppo, triggering a violent and sometimes deadly crackdown by the government. The seeds were sown for the Syrian uprising and the bloody civil war that would ensue.
In Lebanon, refugees are now 50% of the population, and try to fit into already saturated cities. Some urban refugees live in disused factories, rock caves, beneath commercial buildings, or in old car parks now garbage dumps. The Lebanese government, already struggling to cope with Palestinian refugees, refused to build tent cities as seen in Jordan and other countries, and is wary of fostering any sectarian strife. In Turkey, the government has let more than 1,700,000 Syrians into the country, with 250,000 in some 25 camps, and has spent more than $6 million on humanitarian aid. Iraq (and it was once Iraqis who fled to Syria) has taken in Syrians in the north of the country, where local communities now have to cope with refugees while also engaged in their own sectarian conflict with Islamic State militants gaining ground in Iraq.
In Jordan, there is the infamous Zaatari refugee camp that quickly became a sprawling city, at one stage, the fourth largest city in Jordan. Here Lynsey Addario photographed women separated from their husbands and male guardians, abandoning traditional gender roles and domestic duties when forced to work to support their families. She saw the practice of child marriage coming from Syria to Jordan, and now more prevalent with war and insecurity.
Lynsey Addario has focused on the physical and psychological hardship of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons, following their struggles, bearing witness to their desperation. The images tell their story.
Lynsey Addario & Patrick Llewellyn
The report has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time magazine.