The lives of young Syrian refugees at a camp in Jordan, and how football can play a major role in giving meaning to these lives, was the focal point of a photo exhibition in Geneva, staged by the UEFA Foundation for Children to contribute to the United Nations' 70th birthday.
The exhibition at the Palais des Nations, the home of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), offered a significant insight into how the refugees at the Za'atari camp live, while visitors were also able to learn about the work undertaken by the UEFA foundation, which was launched earlier this year.
The foundation is working together with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Asian Football Development Project to allow youngsters at the camp to play sports and remain children in a situation of war. The Za'atari camp houses 80,000 Syrian refugees – 57% of whom are children.
Youngsters at the camp took a number of the photos after specialist training, while other exhibits were provided by professional photographers Rawan Risheq (Jordan) and Pascale Collet (France).
Sport at the camp
The Za'atari camp is the equivalent of the third biggest city in Jordan. Almost 4,500 children and young adults – boys and girls aged between eight and 20 – are involved in sport and football in particular. Some 130 male and female coaches have received training through the programme, and regular football tournaments and festivals are held for boys and girls.
The UEFA Foundation supplied cameras to enable the children to be creative and portray life at the camp through a lens, thereby contributing to the exhibition and promoting it beyond the borders of the Za'atari camp.
Pascale Collet, looking at the refugees' lives from a European perspective, described the photos as "faithful windows which show the unbelievable resilience of which [the refugees] are capable". Rawan Risheq was granted access into mosques and homes, and visits to youth centres and playgrounds facilitated her understanding of how a refugee's life is organised and how refugees have adjusted after years in the camp.