Plight of Saharan refugees depicted in Stoke Newington photographic exhibition

A photographic exhibition depicting the plight of Saharan refugees will be on show in Stoke Newington until Sunday.

Thirst of the Dunes, which is touring the country, is now on show at Open The Gate in Stoke Newington Road and displays images by photographers Robert Griffin and Stefan Simanowitz.

The pair spent time in refugee camps, where over 100,000 people from Western Sahara have been forced to live in the inhospitable Algerian desert for over three decades.

When the Spanish withdrew from Western Sahara in 1976, it was given to Morocco - but a 16-year war followed and a 19-year ceasefire, and the Saharawi’s displaced by the Moroccan occupation have never been able to return home.

“It is a situation that is hard to ignore, although the international community seems to have no difficulty in doing so,” said Robert Griffin.

“The refugees in the camps have nothing, they are entirely dependent on external supplies of food and water and face sandstorms and temperatures of 120 degrees – but what makes their lives even worse is that no one knows they are even there.”

“I hope that through my photos I’ve captured something of their spirit, generosity and quiet dignity. They have nothing yet they give everything,” he added.

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The private view last Thursday included a short film and a panel discussion with human rights campaigner Danielle Smith, photographer Robert Griffin and exiled politician Lamine Baali from the Sahrawi national liberation movement Polisario Front.

The exhibition runs until Sunday November 17 at Open the Gate, 35 Stoke Newington Road.