| 24 May 2024, Friday |

In France, Afghan refugee photographs journeys of fellow migrants

Abdul Saboor, an Afghan refugee, began shooting migrants’ lives as he made his own perilous trip to Western Europe, seeking to depict the agony of being uprooted and flung into the unknown.

Saboor, 29, claims he was chased out of Afghanistan by Taliban terrorists in 2015 and spent two years trying to reach Europe. He took his first photos on a cell phone before receiving a camera from a charity.

“There was no one photographing or documenting what was going on,” he told Reuters. “I made the decision to be a witness to our trip and show the world, show the people how terrible it is to leave your home.”

Saboor has been a photographer ever since. He spends much of his time in the makeshift camps in northern France where migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution in Africa and the Middle East often hunker down before trying to reach Britain.

It was from the Channel shores of northern France that the 27 migrants who drowned while attempting to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy last month had set off.

“I know how difficult it is when you leave all your dreams behind,” Saboor, who trained as a mechanical engineer in his homeland, said in Loon-Plage, a coastal town 20 km (12 miles) east of Calais where many of the migrant camps are situated.

But dreams can be reborn.

Saboor has been granted refugee states in France, and he now divides his time between Paris, Toulouse, where he teaches at an art school, and Calais, working for international media houses.

This week, some of Saboor’s images were screened at an event at a cultural bar in Paris where artists and journalists present their works. Curator Yael Caux said Saboor’s own experience lends a rare empathy to his images.

Saboor’s next ambition is to return to the Afghan border, where his exile started, and capture shots of those starting out on their own new journey.

  • Reuters