A photographer Abou Kasem traveled as a refugee from Damascus, his home to the European Union in the summer of 2015. Abou arrived in Germany having went overland to Turkey and having crossed to Greece by boat. In Bavaria, southern Germany, he was assigned to the refugee camp situated at the Balthasar-Neumann-Kaserne military base, Würzburg, where most of the pictures from the series were taken.
The photo diary, that he calls A Small Forest on the Other Side really assisted Abou Kasem in coming to terms with the reality of his new life in the European Union.
An estimated 11 million Syrians have escaped their homes since the beginning of civil war in March 2011. The vast majority of them has sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey as well as Egypt, while up to 6.6 million get displaced within Syria itself, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees states. Over one million have requested asylum in the European Union. For instance, Germany boasted up to 300,000 cumulated applications, Sweden had 100,000. These were the EU’s number one countries.
When the refugees found themselves in Germany or the EU in general, they were shocked by the things there, told Kasem the newspaper Time. Having arrived all of them were assured that it was going to be all nice and trouble-free. However, the reality turned to be different, certainly. Everybody started thinking something like this that he or she might want to get back as it’s not for him or her and perhaps it makes sense to adapt to new circumstances in native Syria.
One picture a woman in a pale blue ball gown, rapidly running down the steps of a Bavarian palace, clearly represents the European fairytale Kasem as well as his fellow refugees had dreamt of. It was actually taken at the Würzburg Residence palace exactly during a Manga convention and while the scene is quite fictional, it turns to be in sharp contrast to the gloomy and blurred images of the refugee camp.
Some asylum seekers got back to their native country soon after coming to Germany, reveals Abou Kasem, though many of them stuck it out. When living in the camp for up to eight months, Abou got acquainted with folks who have been there for about six years or even more. He still has not idea how they do it. The camp appears to be a sort of in-between place to him. The camp’s rooms are bare concrete, only divided by tarpaulin, with few or even no belongings. One picture labeled as The House or Apartment in Which Somebody Lives is apparently ironic.
A photographer Abou Kasem traveled as a refugee from Damascus, his home to the European Union in the summer of 2015. Abou arrived in Germany having went overland to Turkey and having crossed to Greece by boat.