The photographer Zijah Gafic, 30, spent two weeks in October 2009 in refugee camps around Peshawar and Islamabad taking portraits of some of these refugees with their scant belongings. Originally from Bosnia, Gafic grew up with war as the background to his teenage years. ‘I was a refugee myself during the Kosovo war. I was 14 years old and it’s still a very vivid experience for me,’ he says. Since his first photo essay in 1998, which documented the aftermath of the Bosnian War, Gafic has continued to explore the effect of conflicts around the world on society, in the process winning World Press Photo prizes and a Getty Images grant, among others.
I spent hours with each of the families in these photos,’ Gafic says. ‘They had nothing, but they wanted to share their food and treat me as a guest. Along with the Koran and prayer mats, most people brought practical things, such as cooking pots, although the children had different priorities. Most people were surprised when I asked to see what they had brought. They live in tents under the scorching sun and are just grateful to be alive.’
Photos above: © Copyright 2009 Zijah Gafic