South of the North. 2014
Rezallë/Rezala, Kosovo – 29 June 2014: Hata Rukolli chases her daughter through her husband’s childhood home in Rezallë/Rezala. Her brother, a member of the KLA, was injured during the conflict and her husband Blerim lost his brother in the Rezallë/Rezala Event. On 5 April 1999, Serb soldiers had entered the village separating the men and boys from the women; the men and boys were later killed. Thirty-seven (37) persons have been reported as unaccounted for in relation to this event.
In December 2013, a gravesite in Rudnica, Raska, Southern Serbia, was located in an old quarry, after years of search. The site was discovered thanks to the joint efforts of relevant stakeholders within the frame of the ICRC chaired Working Group on Missing Persons. Satellite images from the period of March – June 1999 shared within that mechanism were of critical relevance to determining the location of the site. Fifty-two (52) sets of human remains and a number of body parts belonging to persons who went missing during the 1998-99 Kosovo armed conflict were exhumed between December and June 2014. Forensic experts from the Kosovo Department of Forensic Medicine, EULEX, ICMP and ICRC participated to and oversaw, as active observers, the works carried out at the site under the authority of the Serbian War Crimes prosecution. Between August and October 2014 all remains were handed over to EULEX on three separate occasions. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
The Lovely Sea. 2011
A young boy plays on an abandoned boat in the dried up Aralsk Harbor. IN THE 1960S, THE SYR DARYA AND THE AMU DARYA RIVERS WERE DIVERTED BY THE SOVIETS TO IRRIGATE COTTON PLANTATIONS, DEPRIVING THE ARAL SEA OF ITS TWO MAIN TRIBUTARIES, SUBSEQUENTLY SHRINKING WHAT WAS ONCE ONE OF THE FOUR LARGEST LAKES IN THE WORLD. WATER QUICKLY TURNED TO SAND AND WHAT REMAINED OF THE ARAL WAS TURNED INTO A HYPER-SALINIZED POOL OF AGRICULTURAL PESTICIDES, KILLING OFF MOST REMAINING FISH AND SURROUNDING WILDLIFE AS WELL. HEALTH PROBLEMS AND UNEMPLOYMENT PUSHED DROVES OF PEOPLE INTO NEIGHBORING CITIES AND TOWNS. IN 2001, THE WORLD BANK TOGETHER WITH THE KAZAKH GOVERNMENT RESPONDED WITH THE THIRTEEN KILOMETER DIKE KOKARAL, AN $86 MILLION PROJECT, DESIGNED TO RAISE THE WATER LEVEL OF THE NORTHERN ARAL SEA BY CONTAINING FLOW INTO THE SEVERELY DIMINISHED SOUTH. EXTIRPATED SPECIES OF FISH WERE REINTRODUCED BACK, AND A DANISH NGO DONATED FISHING NETS TO LOCAL VILLAGERS. TACTUBEK, A HISTORIC FISHING VILLAGE IS BEGINNING TO COME BACK TO LIFE WITH MANY FAMILIES MOVING RETURNING. ARALSK, ONCE, A STRATEGIC PORT TOWN, AT THE NORTHERN TIP OF THE ARAL SEA, THRIVED ON THE TRADING OF COMMODITIES BETWEEN RUSSIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AT LARGE. ALTHOUGH THE DAM HAS BROUGHT THE SHORELINE TO WITHIN 25 KILOMETERS FROM WHAT WAS ONCE THE ARALSK HARBOR, ONE WOULD NEVER KNOW IT. CAMELS GRAZE AROUND A POOL OF WATER CRESTED WITH BROWN FOAM AND RINGED WITH GARBAGE. FROM HERE THE SEA SEEMS FAR FROM RETURNED. THOUGH BRIDES STILL RIDE AROUND IN WEDDING CARS IN THIS TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE TOWN, THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ARALSK THAT HAS DIED. IT IS A BEACH TOWN WITH NO SEA, A SURREAL ENDLESS EXPANSE OF SAND. WOMEN PUSH THEIR BABY CARRIAGES THROUGH MOUNDS OF WHITE GRAIN SAND; ABANDONED BOATS DOT THE HARBOR, HALF-SUBMERGED IN SHALLOW PONDS. ONE CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER HOW ARALSK WILL RESPOND WHEN AND IF THE SEA ACTUALLY DOES RETURN. MORE THAN A GENERATION HAS GROWN UP HERE IN THE ARID DESERT; THEY HAVE NEVER KNOWN LIFE ON THE WATER.
Yo no di a luz. 2016
Panchmalco, El Salvador-May 2016: Women of the community carry the Virgin Mary on their backs on a procession through the town of Panchimalco. The annual Palms Festival features a procession of the Virgin Mary through the town’s narrow streets and attracts people from all over the country as well as internationally who come to idolize her.
Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by C.O.C.A.
Nadia Shira Cohen is a freelance photojournalist contributing to the New York Times, National Geographic, Harpers and many international publications. She works frequently in Latin America as well as countries such as Haiti, Kazakhstan, Congo, Rwanda, and Kosovo, focusing on human rights, reproductive rights, environmental issues, disaster, revolution, and migration. Nadia was born in Boston in 1977. At 15 she received her first camera, in the same moment she was diagnosed with cancer. She began to make self-portraits to document the physical and emotional evolution of being sick. A University of Vermont graduate, she began her career in NYC as a stringer for the Associated Press. Nadia moved to Rome in 2007 where she has been based since, save for a brief period in Geneva with the ICRC.