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George Butler

George Butler is an award-winning artist and illustrator. His drawings, done in situ, are in pen, ink, and watercolor. In August 2012 George walked from Turkey across the border into Syria, where as guest of the rebel Free Syrian Army he drew the civil war–damaged, small and empty town of Azaz. Six months later he made a similar trip back to Syria to record the stories of refugees in the field hospitals and escaping the conflict. His drawings have been published by the Times (London), the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC, CNN, Der Spiegel, ARD, and NPR.


Illustration by George Butler

The Promises of a Continent

Spring 2017 | Editor's Desk

In the fall of 2015, as Europe scrambled to address the wave of refugees crossing into the continent, German chancellor Angela Merkel claimed the moral high ground when she announced that Germany would take in nearly 1 million asylum seekers. This would have been a dramatic gesture even without the backdrop of nationalism flaring up in Europe or the xenophobic rhetoric that was poisoning the presidential campaign in the United States, a country whose historical exceptionalism is based, in large part, on the influence of refugees.

Illustration by George Butler

Belgrade Station

Spring 2017 | Multimedia

In January 2017, George Butler headed to Belgrade, Serbia, to observe and depict the conditions of refugees stranded there as a result of border closings along the Balkan Route, one of the main arteries of travel for migrants moving between the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Photo by Alex Potter

The New Berliners

Spring 2017 | Reporting

On a chilly April morning in 2016, at a newly converted shelter in southern Berlin, Om Belal struggled as she maneuvered her ten-year-old son, Jad, in his wheelchair out the building’s front door. They were on their way to see a pediatrician, to begin the process of assessing whether Jad would ever walk again. Once outside, she carefully eased Jad backward down the front steps, then hurried awkwardly across the street, the wheelchair rattling along: One of its back wheels was leaking air. Om Belal had meant to have it fixed that morning, but she didn’t speak German or English, and she couldn’t find any of the shelter’s Arabic-speaking staffers to ask for help. Communicating with them was pointless otherwise.

Photo by Valerie Schmidt

The Useful Village

Spring 2017 | Reporting

In the fall of 2015, Germany designated Sumte, population 102, as a sanctuary for nearly 800 refugees. What followed was a living experiment in the country’s principles.