Two Czech reporters to document plight of refugees in war-stricken Iraq and Syria

Jarmila Štuková, Lenka Klicperová, photo: CTK

As EU leaders debate Europe’s policy on migrants, NGOs and charity organizations are trying to drum up more support in aid of the millions of refugees displaced by the crisis in the Middle East. The Czech branch of the Catholic charity Caritas, which runs a humanitarian aid project in Erbil, is sending two seasoned journalists to Iraq and Syria to document the plight of people in the war-stricken region.

Jarmila Štuková,  Lenka Klicperová,  photo: CTK
Lenka Klicperová editor-in-chief of the prestigious Lide a zeme magazine and freelance journalist and photographer Jarmila Štuková set off for Iraq on Thursday on a month long trip during which they will be documenting the plight of people displaced by the war against the Islamic State and the dire conditions in refugee camps which lead thousands of refugees to risk their lives in search of asylum elsewhere. Ahead of her departure Lenka Klicperová told Czech Radio, that the documentary project would take them from the region’s crowded refugee camps to the front.

“What we want to do –with the help of Czech Radio and other media in the Czech Republic –is to tell the story of individual people, individual families who are caught up in this crisis. We want to show how the war against the IS impacted their lives, what they suffered and what their needs are. We want to make the daily reports of war in the Middle East more real and more pressing by giving them a face and a true story. But we also plan to go to the front to give readers first hand reports of what this war is like and the scale of the resistance against the IS in northern Iraq and Syria."

Both Lenka Klicperová and Jarmila Štuková are seasoned reporters who are used to working in countries stricken by war or natural disasters. Lenka has filed reports from the Congo and Afghanistan, focusing on the impact of the war on innocent civilians. Jarmila’s work has taken her to earthquake stricken Haiti, Iraq and Ukraine. Their first stop in their month-long mission in the Middle East will be a series of refugee camps in and around Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Freelance photographer Jarmila Štukova told Czech Radio she is not worried about getting a negative reception from the locals.

Syrian refugees,  photo: Voice of America News / Public Domain
“I have worked in Iraq previously and taking photographs in refugee camps has never been a problem. Of course, you need to win people’s trust, but that happens naturally. We expect to spend a long time talking to the refugees and in most cases these people - who have suffered enormously – are happy to share their story. Not only because it helps to talk about it to someone but because they really want the world to know what is happening in their country.“

The photographs and real-life stories of refugees will be posted on Czech Radio’s web pages and picked up by other media in order to boost Caritas’ fund raising campaign for the region. They will eventually also be turned into a travelling exhibition.

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