Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Local Photographer Shows Refugee Photos at Festival

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Local Photographer Shows Refugee Photos at Festival

Article excerpt

Independent photographer and journalist Maranie Rae Staab talks about planning her recent trip to the Middle East with seasoned nonchalance: "I looked up some NGOs [non-governmental organizations] working in camps, had a conversation or two, bought a plane ticket, and went."

In Jordan, the East End resident took the images of "Inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp: 04.01.16 - 04.21.16," a public art installation at the 2016 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. Seventeen photographs are exhibited at Gateway Four, Downtown, from noon to 9 p.m. daily through Sunday. Ms. Staab is at the site most evenings and welcomes discussion.

The camp, jointly administered by the Jordanian government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, was created to house 60,000 but is currently home to almost 100,000, most from southwestern Syria. They are only a portion of the estimated 2.5 million refugees created by the Syrian conflict.

"My hope and my goal is to be able to humanize and put a face to an anonymous number," Ms. Staab said. "It's a conversation that needs to be had here. We have five families coming to Pittsburgh. I want nothing more than for them to be accepted with open arms."

Ms. Staab, 28, has documented the homeless in Pittsburgh with Operation Safety Net and went to Uganda for the Project to End Human Trafficking. She refers to these as "passion projects," saying they're "the reason I wake up every morning."

She gained permission to spend three weeks at Zaatari with the help of two medical NGOs, the Syrian American Medical Society and Global Outreach Doctors. She then traveled with a translator to random "tent camps" near the city of Mafraq in Jordan.

"Eighty percent of refugees are not in formal camps," she said.

Her last week in the Middle East was in Iraq near Mosul, where Doctors Without Borders had mobile clinics. …

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