Poignant Portraits of Refugees and What Little They Took as They Fled Their Homes

In what the European Commission has called the world's worst refugee crisis since WWII, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the Middle East and North Africa in search of a better life in Europe. Forced to leave their war-torn homelands due to escalating violence, these refugees must condense their entire lives into small bags filled with the bare necessities–some spare clothes, a cell phone, medicine, a family photo.

Humanitarian aid organization International Rescue Committee (IRC) and photographer Tyler Jump took a look inside the bags of Syrian and Afghan refugees–a mother, a child, a teenager, a pharmacist, an artist, and a family of 31–who made the dangerous journey across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos, Greece in crowded, leaking boats. “Few arrive at their destinations with anything but the necessities of life,” the IRC wrote on Medium. “Their possessions tell stories about their past and their hopes for the future.”

Omran, 6, Damascus, Syria Omran is on his way to Germany with his extended family of five to live with relatives. Because his parents knew they would travel through forests to avoid detection, they made sure to pack bandages for scrapes and cuts. 1 pair of pants, 1 shirt
A syringe for emergencies
Marshmallows and sweet cream (Omran's favorite snacks)
Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste
Bandages

Aboessa, 20, Damascus, Syria When fighting erupted in Yarmouk (an unofficial camp for Palestinians south of the Syrian capital), Aboessa managed to escape with her husband and their 10-month-old daughter, Doua. After crossing the border to Turkey, they spent one week sheltering in another forlorn camp before jumping into a rubber raft bound for the safe shores of Europe. The Turkish police patrolling the coast stopped them and detached the boat's motor in order to force them to turn back, but the refugees kept going, steering the boat through the sea's strong currents with makeshift paddles. Hat for the baby
An assortment of medication, a bottle of sterile water, a jar of baby food
A small supply of napkins for diaper changes
A hat and a pair of socks for the baby
Assortment of pain relievers, sunscreen and sunburn ointment, toothpaste
Personal documents (including the baby's vaccination history)
Wallet (with photo ID and money)
Cell phone charger
Yellow headband

Iqbal, 17, Kunduz, Afghanistan Iqbal traveled hundreds of miles and dodged bullets to escape from the warring province of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, fleeing east to Iran, then traveling by foot to Turkey. Now in Lesbos, he's uncertain of where to go next. He has kept in touch with a friend who already made the journey to Germany. He has a brother studying in Florida. 1 pair of pants, 1 shirt, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of socks
Shampoo and hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, face whitening cream
Comb, nail clipper
Bandages
100 U.S. dollars
130 Turkish liras
Smart phone, back-up cell phone
SIM cards for Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey

A family from Aleppo, Syria This family lost everything. When they left Syria, each member took one to two bags. During the course of the journey to Turkey and then Greece, their boat began to sink. There were seven women, four men and 20 children. They managed to salvage just one bag among them. 1 shirt, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shoes
Toiletries
1 diaper, 2 small cartons of milk, some biscuits
Personal documents and money
Sanitary pads
A comb

Anonymous pharmacist, 34, Syria When war broke out in Syria, the pharmacist fled with his family to Turkey, where he met a smuggler who arranged his trip to Europe. In search of a life of peace and hope, he climbed into an overcrowded dinghy with 53 others, including a handful of young children. The group made the crossing safely until, near the shores of Greece, they were met by the coast guard, who shouted at them to stop the boat. Their boat was punctured and everyone ended up in the sea. The pharmacist treaded water for 45 minutes before he was rescued. Money (wrapped to protect it from water)
Old phone (wet and unusable), new smart phone
Phone chargers, headphones, extra battery charger
16GB flash drive (containing family photos)

Nour, 20, Syria Nour has a passion for music and art. He painted and played guitar in Syria for seven years. When fighting broke out, Nour grabbed his most treasured possessions before leaving for Turkey?. Small bag of personal documents
A rosary (a gift from his friend; Nour doesn't let it touch the floor)
A watch (from his girlfriend; it broke during the journey)
Syrian flag, Palestinian charm, silver and wooden bracelets (gifts from friends)
Guitar picks (one also a gift from a friend)
Cell phone, Syrian SIM card
Photo ID
1 shirt

Hassan, 25, Syria Hassan was told he could only bring two things–one extra shirt and pants. 1 shirt
1 pair of pants

International Rescue Committee: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Tyler Jump: Website | Twitter
via [PetaPixel, Medium]

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