A Margate-based photojournalist who spent 75 days documenting the war in Ukraine is to display some of his images for Refugee Week this month.
Krisztian Elek travelled throughout Ukraine, from the border at Lviv to Kyiv, Kharkiv and the many cities and villages under siege.
The war in Ukraine is in its 107th day. On 24 February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two,
According to Reuters there have been some 46,000 deaths, 13,000 non-fatal injuries, 400 people missing and 15 million people displaced. Some 2,300 buildings have also been destroyed.
Krisz was on the ground for a prolonged period of the invasion and his images form the ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ exhibition at the 101 Social Club in Cliftonville from June 20-26. The photos are accompanied by stories from the people Krisz met, written by his wife Bea Belicza, who writes for a Hungarian newspaper as well as holding a cleaning job.
Krisz, who is a part-time care worker on top of his freelance photography assignments, said: “I was there 75 days and went all over, around Kyiv all the villages are destroyed, many people have been killed.
“It was awful, barbaric. If you spend long enough there you become part of it, I have seen awful things that cannot be deleted.
“Many journalists and photographers came but not many spent so much time there as I did. I documented what was happening on the ground and it helped me to see and understand so much more. My (work) shows the reality, the damage to the country and how it may be broken for decades.
“Most people though were very optimistic of winning the war but they are also suffering a lot. People are living in basements and underground stations and that’s not a life. At the metro station at Kharkiv there was a community of around 3,000 people underground.
“It was also strange because it was quiet apart from the sirens and the explosions. During the night the lights are not on and during the day there are closed checkpoints.
“I had to be very careful when I selected the photos to be exhibited. They are very sensitive and there are some that I would not publish, things were brutal.”
Through a Glass Darkly opens at the 101 Social Club/Cafe -101 Northdown Road, Cliftonville – on June 20 (World Refugee Day) from 7pm to 8.30pm. The venue is hosting a week of events by, about and with refugees and activists.
Exhibitions, talks, live music, crafts, film, a safe space for a daily chat and activities designed for children and families will feature as well as music from Margate’s ‘broken folk’ duo Lunatraktors.
Keep informed on dates and times via the 101 Social facebook page here
Krisz, who hopes to hold further exhibitions, says he will return to Ukraine in July for a month.
He has already spent the couple’s savings, with Bea’s blessing, but now must raise more. Krisz, who returned to his carers job just days after getting back to the UK, says it is important to document and understand all aspects of the war and the impact on people’s lives.
Fundraising for Ukraine
Cash donations can be made to the Disaster Emergency Committee which works with member charities and local partners operating on the ground in Ukraine and western border countries