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Is the sexual exploitation of women an issue in your city?



Refugees in Europe

Looking behind the picture

‘Can we live up to the ideals we espouse?’ Doug Marshall  (working with refugees in Malta) commentates on five 2016 World Press Photo images.

FEATURES AUTHOR Doug Marshall 02 MARCH 2016 18:02 h GMT+1
world press photo, 2015, migrants, refugees, christian values, Photo: Francesco Zizola, Italy.


A. If this was your daughter, would you want to stay? If we are to love all, to sacrifice ourselves for all, how do we bring flourishing to this face? Refugees on our doorstep show us that we live in a connected world, where ignoring those who are unjustly treated is possible, but ungodly.


A wounded Syrian girl holds on to a relative as she awaits treatment by doctors at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, 11 May 2015. / Abd Doumany, Syria.


B. Photojournalism ethics have been broadly discussed since the widely used photo of Aylan Kurdi’s dead body, rightly or wrongly, jolted Europe into action. Asylum seekers have an innate dignity as people, and often just need a helping hand in helping them recover, not a paternalistic response which does neither the helper or the helped any good.


Migrants wrapped in emergency blankets two days after being rescued catch sight of the Italian coast for the first time; Strait of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea, 23 August 2015. / Francesco Zizola, Italy.


C. When first viewing this photo it is easy to miss the refugees filing passed in the background. Invisible. Typically this is how they have been treated, as something invisible and therefore ignored. Are we satisfied in keeping them obscured, marginalised? Do we trust in horses, chariots and power, or do we love the other, the stranger, relentlessly?


A Slovenian police officer escorts migrants that have crossed from Croatia. Dobova, Slovenia, 20 October 2015. / Sergey Ponomarev, Russia.


D. A haunting photo as a make-shift plastic rain coat distorts the face of a very much alive girl, suggesting suffocation. Refugees often describe their experience as suffocating as they try to fit into a region which has replaced community with institutional systems. Can the church meet the challenge of becoming a community for those displaced and dispossessed? We are commanded to love the alien and foreigner as we would love one of our own.


Waiting to Register A child is covered with a raincoat while she waits in line to register at a refugee camp in Preševo, Serbia, 07 October 2015. / Matic Zorman, Slovenia.


E. Closure and hope. This colour photo contrasts with the many monochrome offerings, an attempt at bringing hope to the situation. This crisis has held a mirror up to Europe and asked the question: can we live up to the ideals we espouse? As Christians, can we live up to the ideals of scripture in a world that operates to an economy different to God’s?


Raheleh, who was born blind, stands behind the window in the morning. She likes the warmness of the sunlight on her face. Babol, Mazandaran, Iran, 12 November 2015. / Zohreh Saberi, Iran.


Doug Marshall is the team leader for the International Association For Refugees in Malta. 



Refugees in Europe
How are Christians in your country responding to the refugee crisis?
Individuals and churches are getting involved helping in many practical ways
Some churches are offering help, others 'sit on the fence'
Most churches openly say the 'wave' of foreigners is dangerous for European and Christian values
Not many refugees have arrived to my country yet
This Poll is closed.
Number of votes: 127


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Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.