Capturing the hedonistic, melancholic holidays of child refugees in Beirut

Sarah Ben Romdane photographs the Syrian children refugees of Beirut

Words by Sarah Ben Romdane

The Syrian civil war has forced thousands of refugees to Beirut, the Lebanese capital. The city has, throughout the decades, welcomed refugees from the region, such as Armenians, Palestinians and Iraqis. Gradually, they have settled and created their neighbourhoods, in which they live with their communities.

In this series, I have documented the life of young Syrian refugees living in the neighbourhood of Clemenceau, during their school holidays. A few Syrian families, who flew Aleppo four years ago, have moved to Clemenceau. Their homes overlook a car park, which has become the children’s meeting point and playground. It is mostly in the parking lot that the children spent their days and evenings together playing, while remembering Syria with nostalgia and fantasising about going back. It is precisely this confrontation between hedonism and melancholia that I wanted to capture.

I spent ten days following them, documenting their free time. My aim was also to show another picture of the refugee crisis story, particularly in relation to children, in order not to essentialise them by showing that despite their status, happiness can exist.

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