Intimate Portraits of Refugees: ‘We Don’t Want to Live in a War’

A close-up look at the people trying to rebuild their lives after being uprooted by violence in the Middle East.

The story of refugees fleeing the Middle East is often told in numbers—59.5 million people displaced at the end of 2014, for example. While figures like this speak to the severity of the crisis, they fail to capture its humanity. Photographer Axel Oberg is working to change that by creating portraits of refugees that “show the people behind the numbers.”

Oberg traveled to the Mediterranean in early September to meet with some of the people who have been driven out of their countries as a result of the brutal civil war in Syria and the advance of the Islamic State.

With these pictures, Oberg aimed to show “more of the person, less of the situation,” and to present refugees in the same dignified manner he uses when taking portraits in New York. As a result, he says, these portraits remind us that refugees are “normal, working, middle class people” who want to live their lives but were forced out by war.”