The current Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities and people who were already marginalised, discriminated, and at the throng of continuous injustices and inequalities. We are bringing together stories, investigations from around the world to highlight and advocate and create the important exposure to leverage and bring about positive changes.
In the 9th edition of the Journal on “Injustice & Inequalities: Covid-19”, we present the work of two great photographers Richard Juilliart and Tomás Cajueiro.
Richard Juilliart shares his in-depth and poignant documentary on the conditions of the Rohingya displaced population in Bangladesh. For over twenty years, the Rohingya people have suffered the atrocities of racism, violence and displacement. Their plight has only intensified with the current Covid-19 pandemic rendering them extremely vulnerable to infections due to poor, inadequate, and terrifying living conditions in the refugee camps of Cox Bazar in Bangladesh.
Tomas Cajueiro’s work maps the emptiness of our known world filled by the incessant work of volunteers. Interposing the empty streets with the portrays of those filling them, Tomas is presenting a touching documentation of collective and personal experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has widened social inequalities and injustices and this journal is sharing realities, issues and disparities that we need to see, reflect upon and action.
Photo editor: Cinzia D’Ambrosi
The Rohingya people are a stateless Muslim minority in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine. They have been forced out of Myanmar (also known as Burma) by violence and racism for more than 20 years. Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize the Rohingya people as one of the 135 official minority groups in the country, denying them citizenship as long as they identify as Rohingya. The most recent crisis began in August 2017 when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people — more than half of whom were children —fled violence against them by seeking refuge in neighboring Bangladesh.
Currently estimated to include a million people, most of these refugees have settled in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh, living in sprawling refugee camps. The largest camp houses as many people as the City of Baltimore but in a space occupying only five square miles (13 square kilometers). These temporary settlements were put up very quickly, leading to concerns about WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), shelter and safety for women and girls.
The arrival of COVID-19 in the Cox’s Bazar area has raised concerns about the health of the Rohingya refugees occupying the settlements. The tight spaces, accompanied by the lack of access to basic services, especially healthcare, leave those residing in Cox’s Bazar especially vulnerable to the virus. As a result of these concerns, Bangladesh imposed a complete lockdown on Cox’s Bazar with only critical aid and healthcare staff being allowed to enter and exit the area. Aid agencies working in Cox’s Bazar have mobilized Rohingya volunteers to support hygiene and prevention messaging in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19. As they work to limit the spread within the camps, relief and response workers have started transitioning away from collective points of distribution into delivering supplies directly to the households of people at high-risk of COVID-19.
Despite the best efforts of healthcare organizations, aid agencies and Rohingya volunteers, the first case of COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar was confirmed on May 15, 2020, with the first death confirmed on May 30, 2020. As of Dec. 31, 2020, more than 360 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the Rohingya refugee community in Cox’s Bazar with another 5,200 in the surrounding region. Of those cases, 10 members of the refugee community have died from COVID-19 along with another 72 from the surrounding region. In addition to the toll COVID-19 is taking on the physical health of Rohingya refugees, the increased restrictions on aid and aid workers have also reduced the amount of mental health support available to these displaced people.
Dal Vuoto al Volto
It was March 2020 when suddenly everything stopped. Gone in an instant cars horns
and noises, the shouting in the bars, the curious glances in the museums, the screams of the
kids in the park. Maybe we’ve never really given the proper attention to the importance of all
those small details as they have always been there available.
Why worry about losing something that we’ve never lost?
Then COVID came, and suddenly everything was not there anymore. In just a few weeks,
all changed, and we were deprived of these simple but essential things.
Nothing has been the same as before. Suddenly the world became empty.
However, that void was immediately filled by the volunteers who, wearing a mask, placed
themselves at the service of all those who held out a hand in search of help.
Volunteers were the human face emerging out of the emergency.
It was in such a situation that ‘Dal vuoto, al volto’ was born. ‘Dal vuoto, al volto’
(‘From the void to the face’) is a photo reportage produced by Tomás Cajueiro that register
Turin in the pandemic period through the eyes of a photographer who was recently arrived in
the city. A photographic journey under the banner of the strength of a community that, while
facing an epochal challenge, sees an important part of its citizens unite to fight the immediate
social effects of the inevitable economic crisis.
A project that combines the emptiness of the streets with the faces of the volunteers.
Taken partly in the streets of different neighbourhoods and partly within non-profit associations
that continue to work, the reportage ‘From the void to the face’ creates a historical testimony
of a particular moment characterized by isolation and social distancing but which brings many
citizens closer to the values left out in everyday affairs.
Under the silence of the main streets and the solitude of the parks, Turin society has
moved and has shown enormous strength and resilience, which is highlighted in the second
part of the series: portraits with and without masks, in the foreground, of the volunteers who
fight the pandemic in its various aspects. Pictures that show the faces behind the masks, which
give a human look to the emergency.
The images were taken in various Turin associations, in partnership with Torino
Solidade, Volontariato Torino, Circo li Arci and Case del Quartiere. Remember who the
volunteers are facing the health risk, have been at the forefront in the fight against the social
impacts caused by Coronavirus emergency.
Tomás Cajueiro is a photographer with a long experience in producing reportages
capable of proposing with feeling a reflection on people’s lives and how differences, starting
with cultural ones, can ennoble and enrich the world around us.
The Turin Volunteer Service Center promotes and supports Volunteers’ presence and
role in Third Sector Entities, with particular reference to Volunteer Organizations, providing
free technical, logistical, training, and information support services.
The Turin Volunteer Service Center enthusiastically shared Tomás Cajueiro’s project.
It offered a privileged position to tell the world of Turin volunteering and how it mobilized to
provide immediate responses to the new needs arising from the health emergency.