Introducing some of our favourite Instagram accounts reporting from the front line of the refugee crisis...
The refugee crisis has been dominating the headlines since Hungary erected a razor-wire fence along its Serbian border last July, halting the unprecedented flow of refugees seeking entry to the EU. Amid the broader story and tabloid outcries about the ‘migrant invasion’, ‘the Jungle’ began gaining media attention.
Images of torn tents, people clinging to lorries and bleak landscapes of mud and barbed wire flooded the news. As the situation became increasingly desperate, with thousands of refugees driven from their homes in war-torn countries, pressure continued to mount as countries in the EU scrabbled to respond to the crisis. Then, on 25 February, French courts gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the southern half of the Calais Jungle, which – according to the Help Refugees census – contains around 3,500 people. Not only had these people been driven from their homes, they were now facing eviction from the temporary shelter that they had desperately fled to.
It has felt, at times, that the crisis has become background noise to the ever-turning news mill. As politicians generalise about ‘waves’ and ‘floods’ of migrants, and front pages continue to churn out steadily swelling figures, it can seem like individual voices are being drowned out and that we are in danger of becoming desensitized to the situation.
Social media channels remain one of the most powerful tools for telling individual stories, and making sure faces are put to the statistics. The old age ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ certainly rings true in this case. One of the most poignant moments of the media coverage so far was the image of Syrian three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on the beach, sparking a global response in a way that speeches in parliament and petitions circulating on the Internet hadn’t quite managed to.
Many charities, NGOS, activists and photographers have taken to Instagram to document events as they unfold. Here are some of the Instagram accounts making sure the refugee crisis doesn’t become background noise, but stays in the public eye and on the political agenda.
Fred Mensch is an independent reporter who has been documenting the demolition of the Jungle refugee camp in Calais on his account @lafredzone
@till2milly uses collage dolls to to create poignant images from the jungle. Another of her photographs is accompanied by the text, ‘I used image of little London #refugee girl evacuated during Second World War to make this doll. This photo was taken in the Jungle on Saturday. This is the place where today police is using tear gas to evict refugees many of whom are children’
Jaz O’Hara of @theworldwidetribe posts extensively from the Jungle refugee camp. Her images focus on individual stories, and are often accompanied by reflections or poetry. This particularly harrowing insight into mounting desperation in the face of plans to demolish the camp shows one of a number of refugees who have sown their mouths shut in hunger strike protest agianst the move.
@rosiesphinx documents the daily lives of both refugees and volunteers working in the Calais camp. Her account captures the anger and the hope that exist side by side there.
Visual journalist Kelly Lynn Lunde of @kellylynnlunde has been documenting police brutality in the Calais Jungle alongside Elian Hadj-Hamdi. Here, she celebrates the cooking of Lala, a Pakistani who serves up delicious Persian fare for a few euros – a reminder that there is more to the Jungle than ‘squalor and lawlessness’.
Greg Williams’ photograph of a teddy bear stamped into the mud went viral after it was regrammed by Cara Delevinge. His heartbreaking images attest to the loss of innocence experienced by the countless children caught up in the crisis. @gregwilliamsphotography
@heathersarrow is an amateur photographer who has turned her lens to documenting life in the Calais Jungle. This image celebrates the sense of community in the camp, where restaurants, shops, mosques, schools and even barber shops have sprung up. She has captioned the photo, ‘The resilience of humans is amazing!’
Cologne-based documentary photographer Elian Hadj-Hamdi has been documenting police brutality alongside @kellylynnlunde. This image references the use of teargas and other less-than-lethal weapons in and around the camp. @elianhadjhamdi