Count to Two: A Photo Essay

Hailey Sadler

Count to two.



In those two seconds, someone was forcibly displaced from their home due to conflict or persecution (UNHCR, 2018). Global displacement has reached unprecedented proportions, according to data compiled in June 2018 (UNHCR, 2018). A record 68.5 million people have been forced from their homes and 25.4 million of those people are refugees (UNHCR, 2018). Approximately half of refugees are under 18 years old (UNHCR, 2018). 40 million are internally displaced, with 10 million reported to be stateless and denied access to basic human rights ( UNHCR, 2018).

The migration crisis has far-reaching economic, environmental, political, cultural, and humanitarian consequences. But it also holds deep personal and emotional ramifications for the individuals who live through, and subsequently carry, the trauma of being forced from their homes.  

The following photo essay explores the theme of displacement through images from my time in several informal refugee settlements in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon during November 2018. The UNHCR reports over 1 million registered refugees living across Lebanon in host communities or informal tented settlements, with the highest concentration in the Beqaa Valley (UNHCR, 2017). These families were forced to flee across the border due to ongoing armed conflict in Syria. Many have now been waiting 8 years for Syria to be safe enough to return home.  

This essay focuses on individual portraiture of a generation born amidst this intricate, ever-changing, socio-political environment - an environment our generation is currently attempting to navigate. It is important to note, however, that these children are not ‘faces of the refugee crisis’. These children are just children. Tiny, individual humans, caught up through no fault of their own, in a complex reality of a world in flux.  

This is a glimpse into that world.


Hailey Sadler is a political communications veteran and international photojournalist and documentary photographer based out of Washington, D.C. Formerly a Congressional Communications Director, her documentary work has taken her to over 30 countries, from embedding with the U.S. Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to documenting the lives of refugees in Bangladesh, Jordan, and Lebanon, to exploring the post-Ebola outbreak healthcare crisis in Liberia in order to capture the faces and tell the individual stories of humans caught in some of the biggest crises of the 21st century.  

Sadler is a member of the U.S. Press Association and her portfolio can be found at Fully trained and certified in emergency first aid and surviving hostile environments, she is available for assignments worldwide.

*Images produced in partnership with Medical Teams International.

Works Cited

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2018). Figures at a Glance. Retrieved from

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2017). Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Vulnerable and Reliant on Aid, Study Shows. Retrieved from ble-reliant-aid-study-shows.html

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2019, March). Operations Portal: Refugees Situations. Retrieved from