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Photographer Lori Grinker on Displaced Iraqis
Photo by Lori Grinker
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February 15, 2008

According to the United Nations Commission on Refugees, more than 4.2 million Iraqis have left their homes. Of these, some 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2 million have fled to neighboring states. Photographer Lori Grinker traveled to Jordan to document the faces and stories of a number of refugees. (Research the plight of the refugees.)

Facing the ravages of war is not new for Grinker. In 2002 Lori Grinker talked about her series "After War" on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS. For well over a decade she had been documenting the brutal aftermath of war. "I think that as an American, I never thought I would never experience war in my country. And I wanted to know about war from the perspective of these people." (More about the photos.)

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In 2004, Lori Grinker shared more of her indelible images of war. Taken aboard the USNS Comfort, a floating hospital that was stationed in the Gulf to treat coalition forces and injured Iraqis, her photos are a poignant and honest reminder of the deep human suffering of war. In her own words Grinker recounts the stories of her subjects, some of the more than 650 wounded that were treated aboard the ship and of the doctors and nurses who worked to salvage bodies and lives. Grinker says, "It's quite upsetting to see what the war machine does to these human beings. And that's what the pictures represent for me, the human cost of war." View the photos from the USNS Comfort


Lori Grinker began her photographic career in 1981 while a student at Parsons School of Design when Inside Sports published her photo-essay about a young boxer as its cover story. During that time she met another young boxer, 13 year-old Mike Tyson, who she documented for the following decade. Since then, in addition to her reportage of events such as the destruction of the World Trade Center, she has delved into several long-term projects, and published two books: THE INVISIBLE THREAD: A PORTRAIT OF JEWISH AMERICAN WOMEN, and AFTERWAR: VETERANS FROM A WORLD IN CONFLICT. Lori Grinker, photo by Robin Holland

Published in major magazines, her work has earned international recognition, garnering a World Press Photo Foundation Prize, a W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund fellowship, the Ernst Hass Grant, The Santa Fe Center for Photography Project Grant, and a Hasselblad Foundation Grant, among others. Her photographs have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions around the world and are in many private and museum collections including: The International Center of Photography (ICP), The Jewish Museum in New York City, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Between editorial assignments and personal projects, Grinker lectures, teaches workshops, and is on the faculty of the ICP in New York City. She is represented by the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York and has been a member of Contact Press Images since 1988.

Guest photo by Robin Holland.

Published on February 15, 2008.

Related Media:
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The Cost of War: A Bill Moyers Essay

How do you make tangible the true costs of the Iraq war? With photos from Nina Berman's book PURPLE HEARTS.

OLori Grinker aboard the U.S.S. Comfort
Bill Moyers interviews NEW YORK TIMES investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston who says America's system has been rigged to benefit the super-rich.
References and Reading:
Lori Grinker

Lori Grinker Photography
View more of Lori Grinker's photos from around the globe and read her accompanying text on her Web site. Lori Grinker is represented by Contact Press Images.

Iraq: Scars and Exile
View images from Lori Grinker's show at the Nailya Alexander Gallery.

Iraqi Refugees

Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq, General David H. Petreaus, September 10-11, 2007 (PDF)
THE NEW YORK TIMES' coverage also includes the multimedia materials used by General Petraeus and analysis of Congressional reaction.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker's testimony to Congress, September 10, 2007

American Enterprise Institute
Frederick W. Kagan's study revisits suggestions from the Iraq Planning Group — including an expanded diplomatic and military training effort could permit a significant reduction in American combat forces in Iraq.

The Brookings Institution
"Things Fall Apart: Containing the Spillover from an Iraqi Civil War," by Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack warns "President George W. Bush has staked everything on one last-chance effort to quell the fighting and jumpstart a process of political reconciliation and economic reconstruction."

Center for a New American Security
"Phased Transition" a June 2007 report by James N. Miller and Shawn W. Brimley calls for "a realistic appraisal of America's enduring interests in Iraq."

Council on Foreign Relations
Among the recent reports by the Council are: "The Iraq Data Debate: Civilian Casualties from 2006 to 2007" and a Benchmark Assessment Report.

International Crisis Group (ICG)
The ICG's June 2007 report covers "Iraq: Sectarianism and Insurgency." Crisis Group distributes its reports by direct mail of printed reports and papers to over 4,100 senior policy-makers and the media.

TIMES Topics: Iraq Refugees
NEW YORK TIMES coverage includes on-the-ground reporting, statistics and stories of many of the displaced.

"U.S. short of pace to reach Iraqi refugee goal,"
Perla Trevizo, CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS, February 13, 2008. "Ambassador James Foley, senior coordinator on Iraqi refugee issues, said 375 Displaced Iraqis arrived in the United States in January, bringing the total for this fiscal year to 1,432...To meet the goal of 12,000 resettlements, the government would have to resettle 10,568 Displaced Iraqis between now and the end of the fiscal year in September, figures show."

U.S. Resettlement Plan Stalled for Iraqis in Syria
Deborah Amos, NPR, September 18, 2007. Displaced Iraqis in Syria are paying the price of strained Syrian-U.S. relations. More than 2 million Iraqis have fled to Syria, Jordan and other Middle East countries. The Bush administration pledges resettling them to the United States, but for Iraqis in Syria, the U.S. resettlement program is stalled.

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The IOM's Iraq project focuses on aiding internally displaced persons — its 2007 mid-year report finds "Iraq is experiencing the worst human displacement of its history, with almost 2.2 million persons displaced within its borders and an additional two million who have fled the country to the surrounding region. This mass displacement is fast becoming a regional and ultimately international crisis."

United Nations High Committee on Refugees (UNHCR)
The UNHCR's Iraq mission reports: "incessant violence across much of Iraq's central and southern regions has forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes every month."

Also This Week:

Does America's $9 trillion federal debt mean we are mortgaging our future and jeopardizing individual savings, healthcare, and retirement for generations to come? Bill Moyers gets a reality check from Public Agenda's Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, co-authors of WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?: YOUR GUIDED TOUR TO THE FEDERAL BUDGET CRISIS.

Photographer Lori Grinker takes viewers to Amman, Jordan for a devastating look at the fate of Iraqis displaced by the conflict.

Bill Moyers talks with Susan Jacoby about her new book, THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON.

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