Mystery Photo Challenge: March 2016
Present this photo to your classroom and solicit their ideas, verbally or in writing, about the location and circumstances surrounding the photo.
What Does the Photograph Tell You?
Click on the questions to reveal the photograph.
People go in boats for many reasons: for example, seeing dolphins from a cruise boat and paddling on a lake in a rowboat. While often fun, boats can also be livesaving, letting people take to the high seas to escape danger. In this photo, Mohammad Abdullah-Shariff, an Iraqi man, hugs two of his daughters after arriving safely on the shores of Lesbos, an island in Greece. His 4-year-old daughter Sidra cries in his arms. The family just arrived from Turkey in a small, inflatable raft. The sea-crossing was part of the Abdullah-Shariff family’s journey to find safety in Europe. They fled their home in Iraq, a country in the Middle East, because of increasing violence there.
After a brief period of stability, Iraq recently lost much territory to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a violent, radical group. Between ISIS’s brutal rule and the fighting over the captured territory, the situation in Iraq has become extremely unstable. After ISIS destroyed their home, the Abdullah-Shariff family’s search for safety eventually took them to Greece. From there they will continue their journey to Germany. (See this map showing another refugee’s journey to Germany from Syria, a country bordering Iraq.)
Today, 30 million children worldwide have been forced to leave their homes because of brutal violence, extreme poverty, or both. This number includes millions of children caught in violent conflict in more than a dozen countries, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. When people, like the family in this photo, leave their country to seek refuge, or protection, in another country, they are called refugees. They often have to make difficult and dangerous journeys as they flee their homes. Many refugee children are unable to receive an education for months or even years.
In 2016, between January 1 and February 9, nearly 77,000 refugees and migrants arrived on Greek shores. During that time, 76 children (or almost two every day) lost their lives while trying to reach safety and protection in Europe. Mr. Abdullah-Sharriff described his family’s journey: “I’ve seen a lot of awful things, but the worst part for my kids was the ocean. They’ve never seen anything like that before.” As a result of dehydration and cold weather, many of the refugees crossing with the family were sick, some with life-threatening conditions.
UNICEF delivers lifesaving supplies to children and their families fleeing violence. The organization provides water and tents to create safe spaces for the wave of children moving through Europe. For ideas on how you can take action to help refugee children, visit https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/how-you-can-help-child-refugees/27186