The Lebanese and International Red Cross are currently exhibiting a series of images, recordings and interactive installations chronicling the devastation of Lebanon’s multiple wars and relief workers role in reacting to them.
The exhibition features both unseen Red Cross archives as well as the work of prominent local photographers who lived through the fighting such as Jamal Saidi.
Jamal told me he shot the image above in the 1980s near Mathaf. He also shot this image below of two militiamen around the same period.
But Jamal and some of the other photographers would not say which militia these men belonged to, explaining that they could be found on any street, from any of the parties that were tearing up the country.
Such anonymity was also a theme of the exhibition with few of the images containing captions that describe the time or place of what was shown in the picture.
For example, in the series below, many of the images come from the wars of the 1970s and 1980s yet the bottom left image from the 2006 war:
One of the organizers said the idea was to emphasize the ubiquitous violence experienced in Lebanon over the past 40 years, which is not confined to one geographic area, group or time period.
This photo near downtown Beirut was particularly haunting.
As well as the looks on these young captives faces:
I was also able to meet Red Cross worker Abdul Raouf Salem, who points to the ambulance he was ridding in as they passed through rubble strew streets of a Palestinian refugee camp that was nearly flattened in the fighting.
Abdul Raouf told me the story of how one militiaman put a gun to his head while driving the ambulance when he was stopped at a checkpoint. It was only a few days later that he found himself saving the life of the same militiaman’s mother. “He didn’t even recognize me,” Abdul Raouf said.
The rescue worker was also eager to share his family heritage of service, with an image of him and his daughters also on display: