Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author

Echoless Refuge - Portfolio

  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Bangui/Central African Republic – June 2015: Augustine visits the remnants of the house where she used to live with her seven children. Since 2013, over two million civilians, half of the country's population, were internally displaced during an on-going conflict little heard about. “I know that coming here over and over is risky, the neighbourhood is still very dangerous. But I lost absolutely everything I've worked hard for in my 50 years. So, I don't want anybody to take over this place, even if it is nothing but destroyed bare walls”
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Yaloke/Central African Republic – June 2015: Trapped in an enclave for over a year, yet refusing to flee to a neighbouring country, these youngsters believe they can secure a safe exit out of the village of Yaloke despite the very hostile surrounding communities. They are in touch over mobile phones with other members of their Peulh ethnic group who pledge to help them rebuild their cattle and their lives once they make it out. “We cried, we mourned, we grieved, and our situation is still very difficult. Maybe we try smiling and feeling hopeful, and we will make it out of here one day”, says one of them.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Yaloke/Central African Republic – June 2015: Ahmadou hugs one of the twenty cows who survived slaughter or theft by Anti-Bakala militia. He walks over each and every day to spend time with surviving cattle after having lost 8,000 cows his nomad Peulh community used to own and herd prior to their predicament in the enclave. “Some of them have resisted, just like us humans, some of us are gone, others are still alive. Being with them lifts my spirits”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Yaloke/Central African Republic - June 2015: Out of the 300 nomad herders enclaved in Yaloke village, over 50 children and adults died of malnutrition and illness within a year. Most suffer severe psychological traumas, and are desperate to leave the enclave regardless of the risk. With most of their cattle killed or confiscated, some are raising small goats. For Peulh nomad travellers, connection with cattle is sacred. “Even without cows , I still need to assert my dignity as a man, and teach this value to my children. So owning a goat and looking after him reestablishes part of my dignity”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Yaloke/Central African Republic - June 2015: The Central African Republic has witnessed numerous episodes of civil war erupt over the past two decades. This diamond-rich and resources-wealthy landlocked nation remains one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. The meddling of France as the former colonial power is often linked to the country's doom. Since 2013, the political conflict turned into a religious sectarian war. “When you get rounded up with a military officer staring at you, you cannot help feeling like a Muslim and seeing him as a Christian. I know however that we are most likely both entirely innocent”, said one of the men in the line.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Yaloke/Central African Republic - June 2015: The Imam of the Peulh nomad community enclaved in the village of Yaloke is the only french speaking person amongst those trapped. During a government official ceremony as part of a fragile national reconciliation process, he was called to talk to local radios. Fearing further intimidation and violent retaliation on himself and his people, he spoke in moderate terms of his community's plea. “When talking to those journalists, I kept thinking of when we were randomly attacked by the militia. We are travellers, we have nothing to do with the history of this conflict. Yet, I found myself hung upside down with a rope and tortured for many days. Still, I just want peace for myself and everybody else”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Obock/Djibouti – October 2015: Despite reports of relative security in the Yemeni province of Aden, 82 years old Abdelah decided eventually to flee. Since March 2015, Saudi-led coalition air strikes were reported to have hit civilians at multiple occasions. Houthi rebels and other government factions have also been part of the on-going violence. “In fact, it was because fighting has calmed down for a bit that we felt it was the right time to leave without risking too much. More from Aden and elsewhere in Yemen will continue crossing to Africa”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Obock/Djibouti – October 2015: The boat moored to Obock port after 20 hours of sailing from Yemen. These two Yemeni kids came down to the lower cabin to eat. They were instructed by their parents to not give their names to anybody. They also refused to reveal what was their final destination. “Dad said Yemenis could be found anywhere, and some could perceive us as their enemies”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Obock/Djibouti – October 2015: Ali used to be a fisherman in his native Yemen, but as a refugee in Djibouti, he can only take a swim. Over 3,000 of his countrymen and women live now in a refugee camp outside the small port city of Obock. “It is absurd that we can fish on the other side, but we can't throw a net here. I recognise the water, it smells and tastes the same. I almost can see Yemen from here”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Obock/Djibouti – October 2015: Mediene comes down to the sea with his older brother Ali up to four times a week. Despite having broken his arm when fetching water for his parents back in the camp, he still does the three miles walk to the beach. Under the scorching sun, he watches his sibling dive and climb rocks. “I am six years old, coming to the sea after class is what I used to do with my friends in Yemen. I don't know what happened to them. I miss them. I miss our sea too”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Obock/Djibouti – October 2015: Seif was riding his motorbike home when his town in Yemen came under air bombardment. The blast sent him flying and shrapnel cut through his legs. Severely injured, he received emergency treatment then fled right away. “I thought of going to a public hospital back in Yemen, but I kept on hearing news of medical facilities getting bombarded by one faction or another in the conflict. I just couldn't run any more risks, especially on crutches and with a metal implant on my leg”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Hargeisa/Somalia – December 2015: Fleeing to war stricken Somalia has been the only option for thousands of Yemenis. At the age 80, Aicha had to cross the red sea and sail with her family for over 30 hours in the hope of finding Somalian shores less troublesome. She suffers from severe rheumatism and urinary incontinence. “I really wanted to stay home regardless. I wasn't afraid at all. I came here for nothing but moral support to my children and grandchildren. It would have tortured them too much leaving me behind. They have enough to worry about here in Somalia, so here I am with them”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Hargeisa/Somalia – December 2015: Haifa is Tarek's youngest daughter. Since they fled violence in Yemen, Tarek has not been able to find work to provide for his extended family. This led to strain with his wife and in-laws, then divorce and separation from his six children.”Now I am allowed to see Haifa and my other children only once week. Imagine what war can break for innocent people. I come from a small place away from the capital and its politics. I had a job and a home, and led an ordinary modest life. Now, I lost, my country, my income, my wife, my children, and even my nerves are on the verge”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Hargeisa/Somalia – December 2015: A stray bullet changed the life of Hamza forever, it entered his chest and left through his back. Unable to carry the recommended surgery, he fled to Somalia with his family hoping to treat his fracture and resume his work as a professional tailor. “ I sometimes think that I must have been mad to come to Somalia in search of bone surgery and therapy. But I know that it wasn't only despair. There was no other alternative. At least, this part of Somalia is stable enough to keep me hopeful”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Hargeisa/Somalia – December 2015: Ramadan fled his native country Ethiopia walking through arid semi-deserts for almost a week. He couldn't risk taking the road when he found out Ethiopian police accused him of links to separatists groups affiliated the his ethnic group, the Oromos. He had just arrived outside Hargeisa, a major city in northern Somalia. “I have been sitting here for hours. I don't have the courage to go to town and accept my fate forever. I may feel less worried about Ethiopian police now that I crossed the border, but I am walking into the unknown in Somalia”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Goré/Chad – October 2016: Mokhtar lives a dozen miles away from the Central African border, his country of origin which he fled to find safety in Chad. Unemployed, he hopes his aspirations for a new productive life will last. “When myself and my family survived the horrors back home, I thought there is nothing else which could stop me, that I will overcome all challenges in life. Reality is quite different though, Chad is very poor too, this area is rural, the economy cannot absorb all of us. But I still want to breed chicken and make a living out of that”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Goré/Chad - October 2016: Back in his home region in the Central African Republic, Copain and his family were allowed to exploit vast areas of land. This flexibility allowed them to alter between lots and crops in order to let the soil take a break. “We are grateful to be safe and healthy in Chad, but making a living as a farmer is very tough. We have to share land with locals, the perimeters are limited and severely controlled and the population is more dense. Yet, the only way forward is to wake up and continue working hard every day”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Goré/Chad - October 2016: Sustaining a large family as a refugee is a difficult task for for Copain who has 8 children aged between one and thirteen. The flip side however to less economically prosperous farming compared to his country of origin is education for children. “It is an immense pleasure to see that they can attend school, then come play here in the fields. I have faith in the future, because next to their classroom subjects and future degrees, they will also have learnt how to farm corn, sorghum and sesame”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Goré/Chad - October 2016: As a Chadian at risk of statelessness, Samira has her photo taken for Chadian national identification card. She was born and lived all her life in the Central African Republic, but she was never naturalised as a Central African citizen. When she fled, she did not have any proof of Chadian citizenship either. “I only realised how important it was to have a form of identification when I was running through borders and checkpoints in Cameroon and Chad, dragging my sleepless children and wondering each time what I can do to do to prove who we are and where we come from”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Goré/Chad - October 2016: After a calm morning working at a nearby farm, Samira was climbing the hill which overlooks her neighbourhood. As she approached the top, thick smoke filled the air and dark clouds shadowed her town in the Central African Republic. Anti-Balaka militia had just attacked. Paralysed by the sight, the 23 years old mother stood staring at her house crumbling under raging fire. “The horrific news reached me fast. My mother was burnt alive inside the house. Soon after, I discovered that my little brother, uncle and two cousins were murdered at the mosque where they sought refuge.”
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Gozbeida/Chad - October 2016: Hosna is a mother who defied all odds. Having survived atrocities in the Sudanese province of Darfur, she fled to Chad with her children and her former husband. As one of the 300,000 who sought refuge in eastern Chad since 2003, Hosna decided to enrol with her eldest daughter Khadija at first grade in primary school. “Because of education, I ended up divorced. My husband and the entire community thought it was crazy to have to work, attend family and children, then study at the top of that. I stand by my decision though, and will never regret it”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Gozbeida/Chad - October 2016: Hosna attends school with her 16 years old daughter Khadija. They enrolled together in primary school, and have been classmates since. Due to the dire circumstances in which Darfur's Sudanese refugees live across remote arid eastern Chad, Hosna sees in education the only hope for her children. “I am the father, the mother, and the girlfriend at school. It's true that we struggle financially because I get to work less in the market, but myself and my children agree that their chances are higher to stick to the classroom with me around. Too many pupils drop out, especially girls”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Gozbeida/Chad - October 2016: Given the remoteness of Gozbeida province and its geographic isolation from the Chadian capital, 300,000 Darfur Sudanese refugees feel they have been living alone since 2003. In over a decade, less than a dozen went to university after graduating from high school. Scholarships are scare in numbers and meagre in size. Darfur conflict used to be receive wide international media attention in the 2000s, including involvement of Hollywood stars and celebrity intellectuals, but very little is currently being said about the plea of Darfurians inside or outside Darfur. “I've come to a conclusion which I've accepted. I do not have a future, my life has been irreversibly destroyed. But it doesn't mean I give up. I find strength in my children's ambitions, so I keep pushing to further their chances of a happier life”
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Khourma/Chad - October 2016: Adam had to leave his harvesting chopper behind when he fled from his native Darfur over a decade ago. As a farmer, he resumed his activities on the Chadian side of the border and managed to have his extended family co-exist and work peacefully with the local community in the village of Khourma. “The chopper I had back home was a tool passed down generations, then when it got to me, I had to flee without it. This tortured me for a long while. Only six years ago, I decided to build a new one, I spent a long time carving it so that it looks exactly like what I had in mind. It's time for the wound to heal”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Khourma/Chad - October 2016: Fetching water for irrigation and human consumption in and around Khourma requires travelling for up to ten miles in a region significantly hit by climate change and rainfall fluctuations. Nourreddine (second from right) is entrusted with the task of meeting his family's water needs, both home and in the field. “Over the past few years, we can be here for no longer than four months a year. And that's around the rains whenever they fall because it is not easily predictable anymore. I don't remember much of Darfur, my parents' land, but they say there was more water there, even if it provoked conflict. At least here we are not fighting over the little we have. I really hope we won't ever have to”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Khourma/Chad - October 2016: Around this time of the year, this is the only pond where Adam can fetch water. His community is obliged to share with cattle during the few months a year they spend around Khourma village farming. “The most difficult part is when children fall sick because of bacteria or viruses in the water. The adults can endure more, but the little ones are often sent back to the refugee camp for treatment. We do not have the choice, farming is the only thing we know and love doing. And that's the only patch of land given to us, so the only way forward is to keep standing firm”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Bagasola/Chad - October 2016: Hawali woke up to the sound of gunfire and the sight of his neighbourhood in flames when Boko Haram attacked his home town of Baga in north-eastern Nigeria. The 43year old fisherman desperately looked for members of his family and discovered his father had been shot dead. Despite being unable to round up all his offspring, Hawali fled across the border to safety in Chad. “I am a fisherman, so if I could survive fishing in Nigeria, I can do it here in Chad. But if we had more manpower in humanitarian programmes, bigger nets and better equipment, we would quickly grow independent of aid, and lift the entire town, refugees and locals together, from economic depression.”
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Bagasola/Chad - October 2016: A total of 2.4 million people in north-eastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been displaced as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. More than 5,000 Nigerians have found refuge In Dar es Salam camp on the Chadian side of Lake Chad after fleeing horrific violence in late 2014. “It was heartbreaking when Boko Haram attacked our homes. We scattered with nothing but the clothes we had on. I learnt later that more than ten people in my extended family were killed. Some of the survivors amongst us ended up in Cameroon, others in Chad, but it took over a year to re-establish contact with everybody.”
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Bagasola/Chad - October 2016: Hawali is one of 2.4 million people which have been displaced across northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger due to Boko Haram violence. He hopes however that the smoke will clear out, and that he will be able to return home soon. “It is frightening to live with the idea that we will not be able to roam again across the lake; fish, travel, sell and buy freely across the four countries surrounding the waters. This has to end, the lake is shrinking already, we can't make things worse by locking ourselves at its edges”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Bagasola/Chad - October 2016: Environmental tolls due to climate change have deeply affected communities surrounding Lake Chad, including refugee and displaced populations. Desertification, deforestation and drought are aggravating poverty. 11 years Khadija is an Arab Chadian whose community was forced into sedentary life in 2015 after centuries of nomadism herding. Escaping Boko Haram threat, they settled by the safe area on the Chadian shores of lake Chad. “ We need to come and queue at the same and only water point everyday. We are not used to this. Now I hear our parents talking about the need to learn how to farm because we mainly herded animals before. They also talk about us children attending school, but it's been a year we are awaiting, and the only thing we do is fetch water under strong sun”.
  • Echoless Refuge - Portfolio - Oualid Khelifi - Multimedia Author
    Lake Chad/Chad - October 2016: Today, at nearly a twentieth of its size back in the 1960s, Lake Chad continues to shrink as invasive plant species grow, covering nearly half of the lake's surface. This undesired vegetation grows on the lake's floor during dry seasons, and when water levels rise following rainfall, it deprives surrounding communities, including refugees, of access to the lake's open waters to fish and travel. Bagasola, along with the other provinces that border the lake, has seen its economy take a dramatic hit, because the closure of borders. It has resulted in a slowdown in trade, herding, farming and fishing. Boko Haram threat, severely aggravated by climate change around lake chad, is affecting millions of people across a basin of four countries: Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, making them fertile grounds for ill-intended youth recruitment.