Photographer Bassam Khabieh dropped himself in the middle of Syria’s Civil War to illustrate and bear witness for those suffering, especially Syria’s children. The eight-year war is a human catastrophe. Casualty estimates from the war swing from over 350,000 people killed, to over half a million slaughtered. In the war’s first years, the United Nations released regular reports on casualties, but gave up in 2016, declaring it impossible to verify the number of dead. The war also fuels the world’s largest refugee crisis since WWII. Over five million people have been displaced. Khabieh ended up trapped in Syria for years but does not regret his choice. He’s now collaborating with Chicago-based human rights activist and curator Leslie Thomas on his new book, Witnesses to War: The Children of Syria, Stories and Photography by Bassam Khabieh. Thomas, also a speaker, curator, and filmmaker, is founding executive director of Artworks Projects for Human Rights. She is director, producer, and co-editor of the new film, “The Prosecutors.” Thomas and Khabieh will join us, along with Leena Zahra, a Syrian-American, and the community program coordinator of Karam Foundation. She has worked in refugee settlements in Calais, France and Idomeni at the Greek/Macedonian border. Karam Foundation is a sponsor of Khabieh’s book. The group’s stated mission is “to restore the dignity and quality of life for people affected by conflict.” Khabieh sums up his book’s purpose in saying, “I cannot keep Syrian children safe, but maybe I can make a difference to ensure that no one ever forgets.”
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