Forgotten people – IDPs of Pakistan floods

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Last week, I spent several days in Karachi, Pakistan for assignments. It has been five months since my last visit to the port city, which is similar to Mumbai.

Between the assignments, I went to see an IDP (internally displaced person) camp located ourside the city.  They are temporary shelters for people who were displaced during the floods in August.

I was quite surprised when I heard that there are still people staying in the camp more than four months after the disaster. There are over 250 families still live in tents and school buildings.

They told me that their villages are still under water and they can’t go back.  As famers, they have no work without the land so they are just doing day jobs here and there in the city to survive until they can go back to the villages.

They also told me that hardly any assistance comes to the camp any more. Some NGOs and relief organizations were bringing food, water, blankets…etc, but it stopped about a month ago. The water tanker supplying water to the camp hasn’t come for three days.

A man named Basir said that he feels that they were “forgotten”.

Although they don’t have much left, they haven’t forgotten hospitality to strangers, like myself.  Every tent I visited, I was offered chai (tea).  I love chai but I can only take so much so I had to turn down the offer after the fourth tent.

As I often feel the same way when visiting people in IDP or refugee camps – I sensed their “expectations”. They expect something good to happen following my visit, especially because I am a foreigner whom they assume may have more power to change the things.

As a journalist, I can’t promise anything besides letting photos and stories out to the public. I am not an aid worker or doctor who can help people in a more direct way and there is no guarantee that publishing stories would bring more assistance to them.

So when I sense such “expectations” from people who I photograph, I feel a bit awkward. If necessary, I try to make it clear to them that there are no promises to be made.

Although I didn’t make any promises with people in the camp, I hope my pictures will lead to remind the public of these “forgotten” people.

~~~~

先週、撮影の仕事でパキスタンのカラチに数日間滞在して来た。ムンバイと似たこの港町を訪れたのは5ヶ月ぶりだ。

仕事の合間に町の郊外にある避難民キャンプへいってみた。今年8月にパキスタンを襲った大洪水で家を失った人たちのための避難所だ。

洪水からすでに4ヶ月以上経つのに、まだキャンプに人が住んでいると聞いたときはさすがに驚いたが、そこには250以上の家族たちがテントや学校の校舎で身を寄せ合って暮らしていた。

故郷の田畑はまだ腰まで浸かる程の水中下にあり、とても帰れる状態ではないと言う。土地なくしては農夫の彼らが生きていく術はない。カラチで細々と日雇い仕事をしながら、故郷の田畑から水が引くのを待っているのだ。

キャンプには、以前は水や食料、毛布などの救援物資がNGOや救援組織によって届けられていたが、一月程前からそれがとまってしまった。水の配給車もここ3日ほど来ていないという。

「俺たちはもう忘れられたようだ。。。」バシールという名の男がこう漏らした。

ほとんど所持品など持たない彼らだが、訪問者をもてなす心は忘れていないようで、テントを訪れるたびにチャイ(ミルクティー)を飲め、と勧められる。チャイは好物だが、そんなにがばがばと飲めるものでもない。さすがに4軒目以降は遠慮せざるを得なくなった。

こういう避難民キャンプを訪れるときにはいつも感じるのが、人々の「期待心」だ。僕のような外国人が訪れることによって、彼らは何かいいことがあるに違いない、と過剰な期待をもつことが多い。

NGOの職員や医者などのように、直接的に彼らを援助するわけではないジャーナリストとしては、記事や写真を発表する以外には何も約束することなどできないし、さらに写真が発表されたからといって、より多くの援助物資が届くという保証があるわけでもない。

だから、被写体となる人たちからのそんな「期待心」を感じる度に僕は少々とまどうことになるし、人々にきちんとそこのところを説明する必要のある場合もでてくる。

このキャンプの住人たちとも、何の約束もできませんよと話しはしてきたが、やはり心情としては、発表した写真が「忘れられた」彼らの生活改善に繋がることになれば、と願わずにはいられない。

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Bonjour Juliette - Bonjour Kuni Takahashi,
tonight i stumbled upon your work on www by chance.
I’m in deep owe of your work as a photographer, and i’ve been moved by what you show. I don’t know if my emotion will lead to something helpfull to any of the people you show – but i do hope so. I hope this knowing can make me DO something. It sure makes me think / and that sure doesn’t seem to be a BIG thing, but still, in a way, thinking is the first step towards doing. And i thought maybe knowing someone over in France seeing your work and starting to think / about others, help needed, etc / might be good for you to know… Anyway, thank you, thank you so much for what you’re doing. Thank you.

Kuni Takahashi - I was pleased to read your comment. It is quite nice of you. Thanks.

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