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Images of love, hate and dirty kitchens

Photos by refugees and asylum-seekers show a keen eye for the terrible cost of human conflict. Adi Bloom reports

NINE months ago Halz Hassan fled from Iraq with her parents, sister and seven brothers. Her father was in trouble with the regime and her uncle had already been arrested and executed. Had they stayed, the family believe they would all have been killed.

Halz is now in Year 10 at St George community college in Bristol, where more than half the pupils are either refugees or from ethnic minorities.

"I was frightened in Iraq," she said. "You had to be careful what you said because you didn't know who was for Saddam Hussein and who was against him.

You always felt how powerful he was.

"But I don't want people to drop bombs on Iraq. I have friends there. I think people there will soon do something themselves."

Halz and her family travelled from Iraq in the back of a lorry for seven days, eventually reaching Britain, where they asked for asylum. All nine were accommodated in a two-room hostel apartment.

"It was dirty and it was noisy - there were many, many children," she said.

The squalor of her hostel rooms with their basic kitchen facilities and dirty brick walls and where her family had to sit on the floor to eat are captured in photographs taken by Halz.

The pictures are part of a display by asylum-seeker and refugee pupils at St George. The work depicts students' lives and their feelings about asylum and war.

Pupils were given cameras and a brief to take pictures of themselves, people and places they love or hate and things that give them pleasure.

Other pupils' displays include younger siblings, school books and posters calling for peace in Iraq.

Henrik Dahle, a freelance artist who worked with the pupils, said: "Lots have real depth and narrative. There are stereotypes about asylum-seekers.

This shows them as real people, with real lives."

Hodan Addawe, a Year 10 pupil and a refugee from Somalia, hopes the display will show the impact of war on people's lives. She knows how devastating it can be.

"We are ordinary people who just want to have a life and an education.

America and Britain should not be bombing people - it's just so dumb," she said.

The photos will be shown at St George community college, Bristol, for two weeks from March 27. Contact Paulette North on 0117 962 4783

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