"I saw children through a fence/ standing by blue canvas tents. I called to them/ they move like ghosts/ gliding silent and remote." These are the lyrics of a song on the life of child refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley written by PJ Harvey. The song, called "The Camp," was written in cooperation with Egyptian artist Ramy Essam to raise public awareness on the plight of child refugees and support NGOs operating in refugee camps.
Music for refugees
"A girl who smiled was a straight lie/ looked like a creature out of time. A grey boy burned by cigarettes/ pushed his scarred hands through the fence," says the second verse of the song, emphasizing the extent of the refugee crisis.
"The Camp" was recorded in Bristol with John Parish, who has long cooperated with PJ Harvey who produced and mixed the track. It was published in digital format on June 9 and artists will donate proceeds to the Beyond Association, a Lebanese NGO that works on projects to provide education, healthcare and psychological support in Bekaa Valley.
"I wish I had wings to fly away, far away/ meet smiley faces who never ask where I came from/ not to ask about colour, race, or religion" is one of the verses that Ramy Essam sings. The artist is known worldwide, mainly for the song "Irhal," which has become the hymn of protesters in Tahrir Square in 2011. Essam took part in the protests and was arrested and tortured.
The song's melody is melancholy and the text is heartbreaking: "I prayed an angel would come, but no angel came," is the last verse.
The official video has been made with images shot by photojournalist Giles Douley. "It is hard to comprehend the scale of the crisis in Lebanon, a country of 4 million, now hosting over 1 million Syrian refugees," he said. "The infrastructure of the country is pushed to its limit and nowhere is that situation more desperate than in the Bekaa Valley. However, there are some amazing organizations doing incredible, effective and selfless work on the ground there, and of all the NGOs I have documented, none have impressed me more than Beyond. To visit their schools and witness their programs is to see hope and that is something we have to support."