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In the Name of God



Life under a violent male regime, in which women have no independence or basic rights – brings many citizens to flee Afghanistan all the way to Europe, in order to restore basic human security and a worthy future for themselves and for their children.
Every year, thousands of Afghan women arrive at the biggest refugee camp located on the Greek island of Lesbos, after a long and dangerous journey that usually goes through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Crowded in rubber boats and endangering the lives of their children – they run away from the impossible struggle in their country and end up in an ongoing struggle of a different kind. But a sense of security seems to be worth the effort, even if it means living without a home. It is an endless story, but one can always find a glimmer of hope for a decent life.

I arrived on the island of Lesbos, not long after Moria camp had completely burned down and thousands of refugees were left homeless. I met those brave women and young girls after they went through another crisis. ‘In the name of God’ brings their stories.

Lesbos, Greece – October 20. The Aegean Sea. Refugees and migrants normally arrive on the shores of Lesbos island after crossing the Aegean sea all the way from Turkey.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Samira, 18, posing in her new home. Her mother, Ploshe, 40, has been suffering from a mental illness since she was 12. When Samira and her family arrived at Moria camp, Ploshe’s condition even worsened. Samira also lives with her two brothers, Yusuf, 5, and Afshin, 8. She never attended school since she had to take care of her mother and family. Her father and two older brothers are in Germany. After Moria burned down they moved into a small house and are now receiving support from friends in Germany. Samira is a wonderful young woman and what she likes the most is to photograph different types of flowers with her mobile phone.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Charred remains of the burned-out camp for asylum seekers in Moria, Lesbos, Greece. On the night of September 8, 2020, a fire broke out in Moria, the largest refugee camp located on the Greek island of Lesbos, Greece. The fire destroyed the vast majority of the camp and left tens of thousands of refugees in the middle of the chaos who were forced to flee to the nearby forests while leaving all their personal belongings behind. Two weeks after, they were transferred to a new camp. The Kara Tepe refugee camp was set up last September and has no fresh water supply or electricity. Located by the sea, it is regularly battered by the wind and flooded by the rain.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Zahara, 23, is five months pregnant. She is married to Roalla and the two have three children. They had to flee Afghanistan because they were a target of the Taliban. They traveled to Iran and from there to Turkey. They stayed there for 55 days and slept wherever possible, in a park, in a forest, or in the streets. Just before they reached the shore of Greece, their dinghy boat sank, and luckily, a Greek boat arrived to rescue them. Zahara suffers from Gestational diabetes and she is in a very high risk. Being a pregnant woman in a refugee camp is a traumatic experience, sleeping in overcrowded tents on the ground lined only with thin mats or blankets, the lack of medicines, struggling to reach toilets over rough terrain, and returning to these conditions within days after giving birth.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Mahboobeh, 12, was born in Pakistan to Afghan parents. Her family was forced to flee Afghanistan a long time ago because her mother’s life was in danger. Every afternoon Mahboobeh goes with her friend to the food truck outside the camp, to bring her family lunch boxes. “I have one good friend in the camp, she is also from Afghanistan. She and her family live in a tent right next to ours. We like to try different kinds of nail polish in colorful colors, and that brings some color to our lives”.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Mahboobeh and her family outside the camp. “When the fire broke out, we got so scared, we thought our lives were over. Everybody collected what they could and ran quickly to the forest. We spent the night frightened without food or water. Sometimes I hear my grandfather cries at night, and I get filled with fear. I’m already tired of it”. says Mahboobhe.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Nagles, 31, with her two daughters Nilofar, 5, and Asinat, 1. Nagles and her family were forcibly evicted from their home in 2017. They were left homeless. After years of unemployment and insecurity, they decided to emigrate from Afghanistan. “We no longer had anything to lose. The Taliban is savage, not human, worse than an animal. I just need my girls to go to school and have an education and change their future for good things to come”.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Razieh, 29, and her daughter Yeganeh, 8. Razieh’s father forced her to get married at the age of 14 to a 25-year-old man. Instead of playing with her friends, she had to grow up fast and enter the role of a woman in order to please her family and her husband’s family. They both come from very traditional families. “It was a black period in my life. I never loved my husband, but he is a good father to my children. I want my daughter’s future to be better than mine. When I was very young, I created for myself an imaginary world of dreams. I have always loved reading poetry by Afghan poets. I would love to write poems one day”.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Refugees swimming and showering in the sea inside the camp, some trying to fish for dinner. After the Moria refugee camp burned down, all refugees were transferred to the new Kara Tepe camp. The new camp has no showers or toilets, so the refugees have no choice but to shower in the seawater. Women and young girls are having difficulties due to a lack of privacy and possible harassment.
Lesbos, Greece – October 20. Tens of thousands of discarded life jackets lying in the Northern part of Lesbos, used by refugees while crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

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Ofir Berman

Ofir Berman is an Israeli documentary photographer and visual storyteller whose work focuses on social and cultural issues. Her work gives an intimate view of people living within the fringes of society and aims to capture the resilience and the authentic spirit in the lives of the subjects.

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