IOM Launches Global Photo Exhibition In Kabul: “Coming Home – Snapshots of Return, Loss and Hope in Afghanistan”

Date Published: 
Friday, September 15, 2017

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the European Commission Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), this week (13/9) launched two photo exhibits featuring Afghan migrants.

The launch, at the historic Babur Garden in Kabul, was attended by representatives of the Afghan government, Afghan civil society and the international community, including UN agencies, embassies, and national and international NGOs.

For the ECHO exhibit, Sandra Calligaro travelled across Afghanistan in the summer of 2017 to capture the work of the Emergency Response Fund, which responds to the needs of people displaced by natural and man-made disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, landslides and conflict.

“The organizations participating in the ERM are responsible in every part of Afghanistan to identify areas where people are on the move and to assess whether they need our support and assistance. But while it is important to provide assistance to those in need, it is equally important to hear the voices of those people who are behind the statistics and figures, and tell their story. This is what this exhibition is about,” said Esmee de-Jong, head of ECHO in Afghanistan.

For the IOM exhibit, Andrew Quilty travelled to four key border crossing points between Afghanistan and Iran/Pakistan during July and August 2017 to record the arrival of returnees, document their stories and the hardships of their journey. Many arrived exhausted after days of travelling in blistering summer heat. Others had been detained for days or weeks prior to their return. Their emotions were mixed – fearful of what lay ahead, but happy to be ‘home.”  

IOM hopes that the exhibit will return the topic of Afghan migration to the center of public attention, both in Afghanistan and abroad. With humanitarian crises around the world, and the downsizing of the international presence in Afghanistan, the country has almost disappeared from international media coverage.

“This photo exhibition is about encounters with Afghan returnees on the borders with Iran and Afghanistan. You would imagine a situation full of despair. Yes, there is despair, there is uncertainty, there is fear of the future in many of the faces of those that were photographed. But there is also a lot of hope that Afghanistan will actually offer them a future,” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart.

The IOM exhibit is scheduled to go on an international tour to various countries in late 2017 and early 2018, to share the stories of Afghan migrants with a wider international public.

For more information please contact Eva Schwoerer at IOM Kabul. Email:, Tel. +93729229129.