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Can you help this project to document the long-term impact of conflict? 

A two-year project to document the long-term impact of conflict on communities around the world has been launched by photographer by Giles Duley. Legacy of War will cover topics such as long-term refugees, PTSD, disability, Agent Orange, UXO and landmines, rehabilitation of former child soldiers and sexual violence.

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One of Giles Duley's haunting portraits: Born after the conflict in Laos, Mrs Mun's life was destroyed by the after-effects of war lat year when her daughter and brother accidentally triggered an unexploded bomb

“The terrible impact of war affects countries long after peace treaties are signed. The economic, psychological, environmental and physical scars can last for decades, even affecting the generations born after the conflict,” says Duley.

Legacy of War hopes to bring together some of the stories of those affected, from 14 countries around the world. In doing so I hope to not just show the breadth of the issues faced by post-conflict communities, but also the commonality in many experiences.”

He highlights the problems of UXO, saying that in Vietnam more than 126,000 people have been injured by unexploded ordnance; at El Alamein, in Egypt, landmines planted during World War Two are still injuring local Bedouin, 70 years after the war ended.

Duley is planning stories in Angola, UK, Columbia, Laos, Vietnam, Lebanon, Egypt, USA, DRC and Northern Ireland, covering topics including long-term refugees, PTSD, disability, Agent Orange, UXO and landmines, rehabilitation of former child soldiers and sexual violence.

He will be partnering with charities and NGOs, to show the efforts being undertaken to help those affected by conflict. Find A Better Way, MAG, Handicap International, EMERGENCY and War Child are some of the NGOs who have already offered their support to make this project happen.

Legacy of War will combine photographic and written documentation, with collaboration from musicians and poets, and will culminate in a book and exhibition. The final aim is to take the project into schools, to raise awareness of the issues and long-term effects of conflict with students through talks, workshops and projects.

Most importantly though, this project is about hearing the stories of individuals whose lives have been destroyed by the long-term effects of conflict.

Last year Duley began the project by visiting Vietnam, Laos and Lebanon. He says he can best illustrate the project by sharing two stories, two stories that he believes represent why this work needs to be done.

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“In Lebanon I met Khawla (pictured right). She is 12 years old and a refugee from Edleb in Syria. After three years of living in the midst of a brutal war, she fled with her family, however the trauma of her experience overwhelmed her. Last year, she took rat poison in a suicide attempt.

“Khawla represents those who have recently experienced war, who despite having escaped the conflict, can’t escape its impact. For her, war will always be part of her life,” he says.

At the other end of the scale is Mrs Mun, who Duley met in Laos. “She was born in Nummen village, one of the most heavily bombed places in the world. Between 1964 and 1973, one million cluster bomblets were dropped in the square kilometre around Nummen.

“Mrs Mun was born in 1974, the year after the bombing ended, so should have escaped the conflict and been brought up in a time of peace. However unexploded cluster munitions still contaminate the ground around her home. She was injured twice as a child and last year, as she worked the fields with her brother and daughter, they accidentally triggered an unexploded bomb. When she regained consciousness, she found they were both dead.

"Despite being born after the war, its legacy has impacted and destroyed her life."

Duley is seeking funding for this project via Kickstarter – readers who wish to contribute to this initiative can find out how to contribute by clicking here. If you have any stories to suggest, want to find out more about Duley, his photography and career, click here. 

Giles Duley, 25/02/2015
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