I have spent years documenting refugees and their children. In recent years I have been interviewing and photographing the tragedies of the families escaping for their lives to Greece from the Middle East as well as the desperate Rohingya and Bihari refugees escaping to Bangladesh from border countries.
To closely experience their lives as well as to help and speak with the families. I spent nights awake in Lesbos Greece waiting for dilapidated and overloaded boats to arrive from Turkey. Sometimes the boats never made it. I walked hundreds of kilometers along with the refugees while they were trying to cross the border out of Greece. In between, I was in their camps, shelters and anywhere they were, trying to discover their pain, suffering, and anguish that refugees must face.
My experiences were eye-opening, tragic, sad, terrifying, and oftentimes shocking.
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Plight of Rohingya Refugees
More than 24,000 Rohingya were killed by the Myanmar military and local Buddhists. It also estimated that at least 18,000 Rohingya Muslim women and girls were raped, 36,000 Rohingya were thrown into fire.
The Refugee Crisis in Greece
As of December 7, 2015, more than 911,000 refugees and migrants had arrived on European shores since the year began and some 3,550 lives had been lost during the journey. Over 75 per cent of those arriving in Europe had fled conflict and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.
The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our lifetime.
The neglected ‘Bihari’ community in Bangladesh
While the international community is focused on the plight of Rohingya refugees, not many in the world are aware of the ordeal of Bihari Muslims who migrated from India in 1947.
This is not just a story of poverty and despair. This is the story of a community of over one hundred sixty thousand stateless Biharis who have lived like animals for the last 40 years.
Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London
Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka
"I see the beauty of people and the human soul in the pictures I take. And though the circumstances of some of the people I portray may be grim, back-breaking, depraved, the people themselves are always remarkable characters and souls"
For me Photography is my language, to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it hear. Through photography I only jot down my heart’s language. The best part about being a photographer is that I’m able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless and to bring their identities to the forefront which gives meaning and purpose to my own life.
I have received more than 68 international awards and my work has been featured in over 70 major, international publications including: National Geographic, Vogue,Time, Sunday Times, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Fader, Brand Ein, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Colors, The Economist, The New Internationalist, Kontinente, Amnesty Journal, Courier International, PDN, Die Zeit, Days Japan, Hello, and Sunday Telegraph of London. In 2002 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. In 2004 I received the Young Reporters Award from the Scope Photo Festival in Paris — once again, the first Bangladeshi to receive this honour. In 2005 I was awarded “Best of Show” at the Center for Fine Art Photography’s international competition in Colorado, USA. And in 2006 I was awarded World Press Photo award and released my premier book “First Light”. In 2007 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the 30 Emerging Photographers (PDN 30), sponsored by Photo District News Magazine, USA. I won the 7th Vevey International Photography Grant from Switzerland in 2009 and in the same year, I took home the international ‘Travel photographer of the Year” title at the International Travel Photographer of the Year Competition (TPOY 2009) in the UK, the most prestigious award in travel photography. I was one of the speakers in the fifth Global Investigative Journalism Conference, held at Lillehammer, Norway in 2008 and as well I was the first Bangladeshi in Ted talk at TEDxOporto 2011, in Portugal. I was one of the speaker of “7th Forum of Emerging Leaders in Asian Journalism”, Yogyakarta / Indonesia”. In 2011 Nikon has selected me as one of the 8 influencers in Asia pacific (APAC region). Presentation of my 10 years project published as form of book ‘Survivors’ in 2012, which has reviewed by prestigious Geo magazine.