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‘Since I came to Ireland, I had this idea of telling the story of people who fled Afghanistan’

Vivienne Clarke

11 Aug 2022

Photojournalist Barialai Khoshhal left his country last year and an exhibition of his work is opening in Dublin this week

When photojournalist Barialai Khoshhal was fleeing Afghanistan last year one of the key challenges he faced was where would he go? While the award winning photographer had worked for many international media outlets he decided to travel to Ireland where one of his closest friends was going.

“One of my best friends from school got an Irish visa. I was planning to go to another country, but my mother told me to go with my schoolfriend as she knew how it feels to become a refugee in a new country where you don’t know anyone, as she became one for the first time when she was newly wed to my father.”

His family is now living in five different countries. His wife and son remain in Afghanistan; they took the difficult decision for him to leave as they felt he was at risk having worked for western media. His mother is now in Pakistan awaiting a visa to the United States while his sister and her children are in a refugee camp in Qatar.

"The Irish Government and people have been so good to us on this path to a new life. We are all really grateful for the help we have received"

“It is very hard, but this is the journey of life,” he says. Barialai’s work has been published with news agency AP, the BBC, ITV, Al Jazeera and Diplomat magazine. His career commenced thanks to a photography course at the US Embassy in Kabul, since then he has won a Unesco photography competition and his work has been exhibited in American and Canadian embassies in Kabul, the US, Canada, France, Iran, Norway and Indonesia.

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