International & Comparative Law Program

Contemporary Challenges in Human Rights Conference

April 17, 2017 | UCLA School of Law

Suspended Lives - Young Syrian Refugees in The Netherlands

2017 Human Right Conference Photo Exhibit
Photo by Maureen Drennan

Suspended Lives - Young Syrian Refugees in The Netherlands is a collection of photographs of young people who fled the Assad regime and are in the process of resettling in the Netherlands. The photos were taken in August 2016 by Maureen Drennan, a photographer born and based in New York City whose work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and California Sunday Magazine, amongst other venues. In August of 2016, Maureen was awarded an artist residency by the Foundation Obras in the Netherlands, giving her the opportunity to spend a month a small town in the Gelderland region and to photograph whatever she wanted to explore. She decided to investigate the lives of Syrian refugees who have resettled in Europe. As she writes,

"It has been five years since the Syrian conflict began and has sparked the world's largest refugee crisis. Around 450,000 Syrians have been granted asylum in Europe. Before leaving the US for The Netherlands, I reached out to some refugees on Facebook , Instagram and other social media sites in order to find some who might be willing to share their stories with me. Through this process, I met Fadi, Nabeel, Sherin, and Razan, all young people who had fled Syria in the past year. While in the Netherlands, I spent a lot of time with each of them, talking, riding bicycles, eating meals, and taking walks. In our discussions, the overarching theme that struck me was that they are in a transitional place, and waiting -- waiting for a permit, waiting to start school to learn Dutch, waiting to get a job, and waiting to start a new life in a new country."