Visualization of Refugees’ Crisis

free essayVarious social organizations frequently refer to the visualization of important humanitarian issues by using posters in their campaigns. One of the acutest problems of nowadays, the issue of refugees (their accommodation and integration into the hosting societies, in particularity, refugees’ crisis in Syria) is one of the most widespread topics of many posters. One of the best examples is a series of posters, launched by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or the UN Refugee Agency that is dedicated to the refugee crisis in Syria.

First of all, it will be important to mention the reason for the effectiveness of posters of such kind. Living in the fast-developing and technology-driven world, people pay little attention to the ways, in which their perception of surrounding has changed. For instance, they may be less interested in a newspaper article to read or in a slide of presentation they are shown at classes if it contains just huge blocks of text and no illustrative material at all. The reverse is true when they see a well-illustrated article or a piece of ads on the Internet that contains a few interesting photos.

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The reason for that behavior lies in the current peculiarities of the human civilization, or, to be more precise, in the fact of their being the representatives of the generation of the visual culture. Nowadays, people perceive an immense deal of information via the photo and video content. It is often easier for someone to get an important message to the auditory via a number of visual media. Social and charity organizations, concerned with cases of the human rights’ violation, need to develop and implement an effective strategy in order to ameliorate the situation with great numbers of people, left without their houses and works, even without any means to survive. The problem they face resides in the ability to communicate the necessary information to the biggest possible number of people. In turn, they will be able to spread it further and provide the needed help. Press-releases, informational campaigns, posts on social networks, and the like are generally efficient enough. However, bearing the peculiarities of perception of information in mind, they also use additional means of covering such problems.

Social ads, delivered by means of posters and public service announcements, usually help one visualize the raised issues. Often, it is not enough just to read about a certain point of concern. Sometimes, it is necessary to have a direct look into its entrails. Therefore, such means of visual illustration have such a great influence on the auditory. That is why the UNHCR used posters as means of reaching out to the world’s society and to address them with the information about the current situation with refugees from Syria.

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The problem of refugees is not new at all. It occurred in the past when the outstanding cases of the human rights violation took place. In addition, it tends to cover an extremely wide geography. The Turkish violence against the Armenian population, aggressive policy of Nazi Germany towards Jewish representatives, and armed hostilities in Iraq, Libya, Syria and a number of countries in Africa are bright examples of the issue. Millions of people, whose traditional course of life was destroyed by the civil war, crossed land and water borders. They desperately strived to find shelter for themselves and their children. Therefore, it is extremely important to provide such individuals with all the necessary means in order to ensure their return to normal life patterns.

Further, it will be necessary to have a look at the main catalysts, employed by the mentioned poster in order to attract the people’s attention to the raised issue. It is widely known that the desire of people to protect their offspring is one of the oldest instincts, developed by their ancestors during prehistoric times. In this way, the posters, including images of children-refugees are surely able to ensure a deeper level of the observers’ empathy. It will mean more possibilities of obtaining help from such individuals. Also, the effect of this poster is multi-layered, as it appeals to people’s emotions, logic, and facts they possess. It expands a certain revelation for the observer at each level of perception.

How It Works

The mentioned above facts define that the poster is appealing to emotions of its observers. However, an interesting thing lies in the way of the visual organization of this poster. Unlike the banners, dedicated to covering of similar issues, this one does not employ images of children refugees. Instead, it uses a more complex strategy in order to evoke the observers’ empathy. It depicts traditional yellow buses that are used to bring children to school. All of these buses are empty. Here one can experience the starting effect of the poster. The viewer realizes that all these vehicles could have performed their direct functions and brought Syrian children to their schools and back. However, currently, they do not. In fact, this mission is impossible, because a great deal of schools in the country is destroyed by the military activities. It means that the basic right of children to a decent education is utterly violated.

Next, the observer approaches another stage of the poster’s effect, as it appeals to the person’s sense of logic. At this stage, a viewer realizes that the logical pattern is destroyed as lots of children from Syria are now deprived of the possibility to attend classes, due to the civil war that does not seem to stop in the foreseeable future. Most of these kids would be extremely lucky to have at least some basic classes of reading and writing, given by volunteers in refugee camps. Instead, they are forced to help their families in order to earn a living in any of the possible ways. In view of this image, an observer starts getting an idea of the logical inconsistency of this case. Receiving the education is considered one of the unalienable rights of every single person; thus, the reality shocks.

The third element of the poster’s effect appeals to the mere fact of the negative consequences of the military conflict in Syria. Here, a person can see an effective combination of visual and textual elements. This mix aims at providing the aggregate picture that takes place in the territory of the Middle East today. The upper sentence at the top of the page informs the viewer that the number of Syrian children, which are refugees now, amounts to about one million. The lower one completes the circle of the visual and textual metaphor. It is a core means of sending the message to observers of the posters. It says that this figure means sixteen thousand school buses, full of kids. This very moment serves is the basis of the poster’s appeal to facts.

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It is also well-known that people perceive any information in a better way if they are confronted with an accomplished fact of something that is happening right now. It is precisely why the facts that are delivered by this poster may be perceived by the vast auditory in a more effective way. It is especially true since they are delivered as two laconic sentences and enhanced by the powerful visual metaphor. On top of all things, visual composition of the discussed poster also receives its effectiveness in terms of influencing its observer by means of the chosen color palette. Yellow school buses are often perceived in a more positive way. However, in this case, the piling up yellow color, as well as the cold and lifeless on this poster, creates some additional shades of an impression. Thus, it deepens the poster’s effect.

To this end, it is possible to state that the visualization of acute issues plays one of the most important roles in delivering the information about them to the modern society. As it can be seen from the series of posters on the refugee crisis in Syria, published by the UN Refugee Agency, the visual medium may serve as an instrument of a noticeable social influence. The poster picturing the issue of the children’s under-education due to the military activities in Syria is a perfect example of this effect. The needed effect is reached due to the use of a complex technique of appeal to the viewer’s emotions, logic, and ratio. It additionally employs the means of the visual metaphor that is incredibly effective in posters that are dedicated to social issues like this one. All the mentioned devices play its particular role in the context of the peculiar informational medium (for example, a poster). Thus, they help such posters to motivate people to help others. In this way, they allow preserving a particle of the humanistic essence.