Next to a historic church in London’s West End stands a bleak white tent stamped UNHCR, the initials of the United Nations refugee agency. This symbol of conflict, dislocation and poverty is a mute reproach to the indifference of Londoners – and Britain as a whole – to the catastrophe of the Syrian war.
The tent, part of a two-week installation called Another Day Lost, is the idea of the Syrian-born artist Issam Kourbaj, to symbolize refugee life. He calls his homeland ‘the country formerly known as Syria’.
As you go into the tent it seems at first sight to be bare. But on the floor is a model refugee camp made up of scraps of paper, pages of books and old medicine boxes. It has a perimeter ‘fence’ of 1,579 spent matches, one for each ‘lost’ day since the outbreak of the revolt.