Friday May 24, 2019

Photographer Moaz Bowman Captures Faces to show human spirit persevering against all odds in War-torn Syria

The photographers took the pictures from different regions of the country, which aims to reach behind the statistics, combat pictures, and global maneuvering to show the real Syria.

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After aerial bombardment by the Syrian government of rebel-held areas of Azaz in Aleppo governorate. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • A team of Syrian volunteer photographers part of the “The Humans Of Syria” project, showcased their work at an exhibition at the Capitol hill in the US
  • The photographs are arranged in two circles at the rotunda of the US Senate office building. The photographers also spoke at the opening of the exhibit via video message
  • Republican Senator, Bob Corker, spoke at the opening of the exhibit, saying that it was the greatest humanitarian disasters of modern time and we stood by and let this happen

Sept 09, 2016: His dark eyes glare at the camera as if it caught him doing something forbidden. The nine-year-old boy doesn’t attend school because of the civil war in the country, is shown holding a pen. The caption says he misses school but, “I carry a pen with me wherever I go and write on anything I can.”

The photograph of Moaz from Eastern Ghouta, Syria, is part of an exhibition in the rotunda of a U.S. Senate office building. It captures the human spirit persevering against all odds, despite living in the midst of a five-year-long conflict that has killed about 400,000 people.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

“The Syrian people, if you talk to them, they feel like they’ve been left alone,” says Dr. Lina Murad of the Syrian American Medical Society. Murad left Syria years ago to escape the Assad government. She says the lack of international monetary assistance has meant a complete collapse of humanitarian support.

‘Nation of heroes’

A team of Syrian volunteers took the photos in different regions of the country to show what they call “a nation of heroes who are doing everything they can to live, to love and to dream.”

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGy5L98EwYY

The Humans of Syria project aims to reach behind the statistics, combat pictures, and global maneuvering to show the real Syria. The photographers spoke at the opening of the exhibit via video message.

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Their photographs are arranged in two circles below the high dome of the U.S. Capitol building, in a barren, yet stately space that echoes with footsteps from offices above. The faces look outward from the center of the area as if begging to speak and tell their stories. The captions do it for them.

Four toddlers stand outside ruins in Idlib province. The arched stone cave door leads to their home after their father was killed in the war and their mother left to remarry.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

A 12-year-old from Aleppo attaches lug nuts onto a tire. He started working two years ago after his school was bombed.

“What we don’t understand here is that half the population of Syria is displaced, internally or externally,” said Murad, who is quick to add that government policies, not other humans, are failing her people.

‘Scar on our country’

Senator Bob Corker, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee spoke at the opening of the exhibit.

“This will go down as one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of modern time and we stood by and let this happen,” he said.

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Corker has long criticized the Obama administration for not putting the U.S. military on the ground in Syria early in the conflict. “This is a scar on our country,” he said.

The groups represented support House Resolution 5732 — The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act — which promises accountability for Syrian human rights abusers and an analysis of possible no-fly and safe zones. Critics call it a “pro-war bill” that will lead to further U.S. intervention in Syria. The resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives in July.

A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)
A photograph from the Humans of Syria project, on display at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (M. Bowman/VOA)

In the meantime, a photo stands out. It shows an artist who is wearing a surgical mask to avoid breathing the dust of a bombed building. He has drawn a picture of a little girl in a dress, standing on a pile of skulls.

The little girl is stretching above her head to write the word “Hope.” (VOA)

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Amid Intensifying US China Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters Eye Gains

Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers

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US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
Orient Craft, one of India's largest apparel exporters, says it could benefit from increased business as the US-China trade war intensifies. This building in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi houses its office and one of its garment units. VOA

As work on establishing a massive garment-manufacturing unit by one of India’s leading apparel exporters enters the final stages, the company is optimistic about keeping the machines humming. Slated to begin production in August, Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers.

Inquiries from buyers in the United States, its biggest market, have increased in recent months as a trade dispute with China intensifies, according to A.K. Jain, who heads the Commercial department at Orient Craft. That is why he is upbeat about generating new business. “This is an unbelievable blessing in disguise,” he says. “It will give us an edge.”

Exporters in India are reaping the benefits of the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies as business with both countries jumps, according to Ajai Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Export Organizations.

“While overall exports have gone up by nine percent, exports to the U.S. have gone up by 13 percent and to China by 32 percent,” he says. And as the confrontation escalated last week after the two countries failed to reach a deal, his optimism increased. “Since the tariff hike is now substantial from 10 to 25 percent we feel we will have more advantage in market access.”

US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
A slowdown in the Indian economy is being attributed to a drop in consumption by an affluent middle class. VOA

India is among a handful of countries set to benefit from the U.S.-China trade dispute, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development stated in February. “The saying ‘it’s good to fish in troubled waters’ could apply to some bystander nations,” the report said, pointing out that most of the Chinese exports subject to U.S. tariffs will be captured by firms in third countries.

While China has opened its doors wider to a range of agricultural products from India such as rice and sugar, exports to the United States have increased in areas such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, auto components and apparel.

“In various products we were losing out to China with a very narrow margin. With the hike, we are able to offset that,” says Sahai. “That is why the tariff war has presented us an opportunity to enter markets in the U.S. in some areas we were hardly penetrating.”

But even as Indian exports benefit, trade experts warn that clouds are also gathering over New Delhi’s trade relationship with Washington. In recent months, U.S. President Donald Trump has slammed Indian duties on some U.S. goods, saying that India is not providing “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.

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Economists also warn that an eventual slowdown in global trade due to the U.S.-China trade spat will hit all countries including India, which is already staring at an economic slowdown

Growth in the world’s fastest growing major economy flagged to 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2018 – it’s lowest in more than a year. It is not expected to fare much better this year.

The slump is blamed on slackening domestic consumption, which powers the Indian economy. Unlike East Asian countries, which have raced ahead on the back of exports, growth momentum in India is largely based on an affluent middle class snapping up goods such as cars, refrigerators, air conditioners and other consumer goods.

But there are concerns as automobile sales, the barometer of consumption, plunged to the lowest in nearly eight years in recent months.

US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
Like other carmakers, the Hyundai showroom in Gurgaon has witnessed a decline in sales of cars in recent months. VOA

At the Hyundai car showroom in the upscale business hub of Gurgaon, near Delhi, a range of swanky models beckon customers, but there are few to be seen. This is in marked contrast to the last three years when buoyant automobile sales helped India overtake Germany to become the world’s fourth largest automobile market. That prompted car makers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota to expand their presence in the country.

“In recent years, March and April used to be good months. But now 20 to 30 percent drop is there in these months also,” says Gagan Arora, business head at the Hyundai showroom. “There is a slowdown in the whole industry. New buyers are not being added so frequently.”

Economists say while rising exports to the United States and China present a silver lining, the first challenge facing India’s new government due to take office after vote counting in elections is completed this week, will be how to restore overall momentum to the economy and see why consumers are not so willing to open their wallets. (VOA)