'Children are the real victims of conflict'

The global refugee crisis through the lens of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Muhammed Muheisen

Zawar Khan, an Afghan refugee child chases bubbles while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Zawar Khan, an Afghan refugee child chases bubbles while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Zawar Khan, an Afghan refugee child chases bubbles while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Jordanian photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen aims to bring to life the stories of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people, as well as the challenges they face settling in new countries.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has been documenting refugee crises across the Middle East, Asia and Europe for over a decade.

19-year-old Syrian refugee Narmeen Zaytoun from Idlib, holds her 23-day-old son Mohammed while walking to her cousin's tent at the Moria camp on Lesbos.

19-year-old Syrian refugee Narmeen Zaytoun, holds her 23-day-old son Mohammed while walking to her cousin's tent at the Moria camp on Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

19-year-old Syrian refugee Narmeen Zaytoun, holds her 23-day-old son Mohammed while walking to her cousin's tent at the Moria camp on Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

“Not everyone is aware of what is happening in our world," Muheisen tells SBS Greek.

"We always use the word 'refugee', but behind the word, there are people with homes and hopes, people who had memories and families but they were forced to leave their homes and look for a safer place."

21-month-old Afghan refugee Anna Rahmoni sleeps under a mosquito net outside her family's tent in Malakasa camp north of the Greek capital.

21-month-old Afghan refugee Anna Rahmoni sleeps under a mosquito net in Malakasa camp north of the Greek capital. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

21-month-old Afghan refugee Anna Rahmoni sleeps under a mosquito net outside her family's tent in Malakasa camp north of the Greek capital.

21-month-old Afghan refugee Anna Rahmoni sleeps under a mosquito net in Malakasa camp north of the Greek capital. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Muheisen recently exhibited a selection of his work in Athens under the title 'Light on the Move'.

The featured images present the daily lives of refugees and internally displaced people from different parts of the world.

The photographic exhibition was co-hosted by the United Nations Migration Agency in Greece.

Unaccompanied refugee minors and older refugees offer evening prayers in a makeshift mosque in Belgrade, Serbia.

Unaccompanied refugee minors and older refugees offer evening prayers in a makeshift mosque in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Unaccompanied refugee minors and older refugees offer evening prayers in a makeshift mosque in Belgrade, Serbia.

Unaccompanied refugee minors and older refugees offer evening prayers in a makeshift mosque in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Muheisen says he was one of the first photographers to go to the Greek island of Lesbos in 2015, when tens of thousands of people arrived seeking refuge from war, violence and economic instability in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

They arrived on the shores of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

Hundreds of people drowned attempting the crossing.

A wooden boat full of life jackets used by refugees to cross the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast remained on the shore of Lesbos.

A boat full of life jackets used by refugees to cross the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast remained on the shore of Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

A boat full of life jackets used by refugees to cross the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast remained on the shore of Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

“I have this powerful image in my mind where a group of Greek grandmas were holding bottles of water," says Muheisen of the generosity he saw in Lesbos.

"Whenever a refugee came by they handed water to them, saying words in Greek. I saw a lot of support.”

A Syrian woman and child are wrapped with thermal blankets to shelter from the cold after journeying from the Turkish coast to Lesbos in 2015.

A Syrian woman and child are wrapped with thermal blankets to after a cold journey from the Turkish coast to Lesbos in 2015. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

A Syrian woman and child are wrapped with thermal blankets to after a cold journey from the Turkish coast to Lesbos in 2015. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Muheisen's 'Light on the Move' exhibition depicts refugees and migrants in their daily life. It has a strong focus on children and the way their lives are affected by the displacement they experience.

“Children are the real victims of conflict," he says. "They don’t get to choose where they are born. They want to be happy, to play and have fun. They are voiceless and they don’t hide their emotions."

10-year-old Syrian refugee Zubaida Faisal, skips a rope while she and other children play near their tents at an informal tent settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan.

10-year-old Syrian refugee Zubaida Faisal skips while children play in an informal tent settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

11-year-old Afghan refugee Khoshmina Shirin Agha, poses for a picture behind her family's tent at the informal extension of Moria camp in Lesbos.

11-year-old Afghan refugee Khoshmina Shirin Agha poses for a picture behind her family's tent in the Moria camp in Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Zahra Mahmoud, a 7-year-old Syrian refugee from Deir ez-Zor, poses for a picture inside her uncle's tent, in an informal tented settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan.

Zahra Mahmoud, a 7-year-old Syrian refugee from Deir ez-Zor, poses for a picture inside her uncle's tent on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

10-year-old Syrian refugee Zubaida Faisal, skips a rope while she and other children play near their tents at an informal tent settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan.

10-year-old Syrian refugee Zubaida Faisal skips while children play in an informal tent settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

11-year-old Afghan refugee Khoshmina Shirin Agha, poses for a picture behind her family's tent at the informal extension of Moria camp in Lesbos.

11-year-old Afghan refugee Khoshmina Shirin Agha poses for a picture behind her family's tent in the Moria camp in Lesbos. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Zahra Mahmoud, a 7-year-old Syrian refugee from Deir ez-Zor, poses for a picture inside her uncle's tent, in an informal tented settlement on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan.

Zahra Mahmoud, a 7-year-old Syrian refugee from Deir ez-Zor, poses for a picture inside her uncle's tent on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

“I want to raise their voice by telling the world that this child has a name, has an age and dreams. The word 'refugee' or 'migrant' is not fair.”

25-day-old premature Afghan infant Aliah lies on a bed next to her mother Shameem in a camp near the Croatian border in Serbia.

25-day-old premature Afghan infant Aliah lies on a bed next to her mother in a camp near the Croatian border in Serbia. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

37-year-old Afghan refugee Aziza Nazar, poses for a picture with her 3-year-old daughter Lal Mina at her neighbor's mud home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

37-year-old Afghan refugee Aziza Nazar with her 3-year-old daughter Lal Mina in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

An Afghan refugee girl skips using her headscarf while she and other children play in a poor neighborhood in Pakistan.

An Afghan refugee girl skips using her headscarf while she and other children play in a poor neighborhood in Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

25-day-old premature Afghan infant Aliah lies on a bed next to her mother in a camp near the Croatian border in Serbia. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

37-year-old Afghan refugee Aziza Nazar, poses for a picture with her 3-year-old daughter Lal Mina at her neighbor's mud home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

37-year-old Afghan refugee Aziza Nazar with her 3-year-old daughter Lal Mina in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

An Afghan refugee girl skips using her headscarf while she and other children play in a poor neighborhood in Pakistan.

An Afghan refugee girl skips using her headscarf while she and other children play in a poor neighborhood in Pakistan. (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Referring to the tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who remain in camps in Greece, Muheisen says that he wants to tell the stories that he says are so often missed by mainstream media organisations.

"So there are so many untold stories," he says. "I am here to report them. When mainstream media go, I am here to give the people a voice and convey their message to the world.”

Syrian refugee Zahra Mahmoud and Afghan refugee Laiba Hazrat (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)

Syrian refugee Zahra Mahmoud and Afghan refugee Laiba Hazrat (Photo: Muhammed Muheisen)