Remembering Childhood: A Photo Shoot in Khan Younis

29 November 2013

Three decades ago, UNRWA photographer and filmmaker George Nehmeh was in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, when he snapped a picture of a group of kids running across the sand dunes towards his camera. After seeing that picture on a visit to the Agency's photo library in Gaza, he decided to reconstruct it with the help of UNRWA photographer Shareef Sarhan and former professional photographer Lionello Boscardi, Chief of the Agency's Partnership Division. 

In some ways, when they arrived, it could have been that very day 30 years ago: Khan Younis is still very poor, with many of the residents still in humble shelters. But the past decades have not been easy. Residents told George about conflict and violence, about the difficulties of living in a firing zone between the town and a settlement that was evacuated in 2005. Many of the buildings in the background of the old photograph were gone, but some kids playing in the dunes were happy to help our photographers recreate that memory. 

George Nehmeh, born in Beirut, was an UNRWA photographer and filmmaker from 1960 to 1996. During this period, he captured dramatic moments in the history of the Palestine refugees in films and photographs. Recently, he visited camps in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, meeting with people he had photographed during his career.

'The Long Journey', an exhibition unveiling the newly digitized UNRWA film and photo archive, opens on Thursday 28 November at 6 p.m. at the Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in the Old City of Jerusalem.