Martin Edström@martinedstrom

@NatGeo Explorer and photographer // I like to put people in other people's shoes // VR & 360 // Founder at @ivarsthlm

http://martinedstrom.com/

On #WorldRefugeeDay, I always think back to meeting Ali in 2009.

At this point, Ali Mustafa, 21, had spent over six years in a refugee camp on Malta. After fleeing Sudan, coming over the Mediterranean sea, he first spent three months in detention. When I met him he lived in the open refugee center of Marsa, but couldn't find a job. Couldn't get asylum, either.
Stuck at the very edge of Europe, in limbo.

And while most people in his situation tried to stay positive, Ali didn't. He said it was simply realistic to think he would never leave the refugee center, or be forced back home. Faced with such harsh predictions, I simply couldn't find any words to reply with.

And on days like this, when news break of toddlers being separated from their parents on the US border - on the very day dubbed #WorldRefugeeDay - I'm finding it hard to be positive too.

#refugeecrisis #Malta #unhcr #Marsa #lifestories #globalmigration


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Conservation is a tricky thing. Not only dealing with systematic encroachment of wildlife territory and dangerous pollution, there are all kinds of cultural complications to deal with.

This turtle skull (probably from a Loggerhead or Hawksbill turtle, would love some help to identify it) is lying on a beach of Socotra, where hunting and trading turtle meat and shells has been a tradition for centuries. Turtle hunting has been banned, but it still happens as there is demand for these ingredients.

With Socotra being an important nesting ground for both Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill turtles it's important to stop both systematic encroachment of their beaches - but also to work with the communities to realize the value of keeping these beautiful creatures alive.

#conservation #turtles #wildlife #hunting #natgeocreative


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One of the best parts of my job is the amazing people I get to work with - like @littlemsfossil, here laying out our plans on a map of Socotra.
First time we met, we instinctively pointed fingers at each other and both blurted out: "We've got to talk!". And I'm glad we eventually did.

Though she's not just the badass this picture make her out to be (she once dragged me through the dark streets of a Yemeni town looking for a laundromat in the middle of the night, just because she didn't pack enough clothes) she's probably the one person you want with you in any unstable territory. She makes things happen. If anything, she'll know which cave you can live in.

This was shot on board of the cement cargo ship where we spent several days together with @leonmccarron and @rhystj to get to Socotra.

Hoping to be on the road with @littlemsfossil soon again!

#socotra #natgeo #exploration #badasswomen


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Entering the top of the world, Socotra's limestone valleys. While you can get a lot of places with cars and mopeds, there are still a lot of winding trails on the island you can only reach by foot - or hooves.

#camelback #twilight #arabia


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That tiny speck is me, hard at work with scanning an important stretch of land in Socotra using photogrammetry (to make a 3D model of the place). Interesting to see yourself from above, and as always in nature - you feel quite small.

#dragonsbloodisland #photogrammetry #unesco #worldheritage #feelsmall


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With these massive dunes you'd think Socotra has a desert. But no. They're created by the insane winds that whip the island every year in monsoon and cyclone season.

You can see @leonmccarron struggling his way up the dune. No one knows why.

#extremeweather #climatechange #drone #aerial #sand #monsoon


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Entering the highlands of Socotra, @leonmccarron leads me, @littlemsfossil and @rhystj over the hills and far into Dragon's Blood territory.

While you often think of Socotra as a little dot in the Arabian sea, it's hard not to gape in awe at the size of its mountain ranges and its different climates - and the incredible versatility of the people who have scaled these mountain passes again and again to bring crops down and other supplies up.

Quite a commute though.

#commutebycamel #drone #aerial #yemen


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Not only caught up in political turmoil, Socotra seems to be getting more extreme weather than ever.

It's heartbreaking to hear about the cyclones and extreme weather that has hit the island in the recent week(s). Our friends on the island tell us of widespread destruction of homes due to crazy winds and floods. The monsoon season seems to get worse every year: here's an image of one of the very old Dragon's Blood Trees that got torn up - roots and all - in the cyclones a few years back.
The winds here are powerful enough to threaten even these highland giants.

#cyclone #naturaldisasters #climatechange #socotra #dragonsbloodisland


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Three palm trees, a thousand Dragon's Blood trees - and the stars. While on expedition with @littlemsfossil, @leonmccarron and @rhystj we usually didn't sleep more than a few hours at night - but there was rarely a dull moment.

As my career in journalism has me hovering between stories on political conflict as well as outdoor adventures, this was a contrastful evening. I have never before camped in such an epic location inside what's essentially a war-torn country. I look forward to visiting Socotra in times of peace.

#underthestars #starstruck #outdoor #socotra #dragonsbloodisland


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This is Ali, who you already met through one of my previous posts.

Even though our research on Socotra was interesting in many ways, and the island is now clearly bound for an uncertain future because of political developments in the region, he's the one human encounter that really stuck.
He said he once found a dead whale from which he could harvest a piece of ambergris - something he sold for a fortune. This would have made him really rich.

Yet he continues to come back to his cave as soon as married life in the city bores him. Pushing his raft and picking oysters off the bountiful reefs of Socotra.

He seemed truly happy.

#dragonsbloodisland #socotra #fishing #natgeocreative


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I've never been much into beaches, but I have to say the ones on Socotra were some of the most pristine stretches of sand I've ever seen - stretching for kilometers - with crystal clear water.

Not a person in sight (except for @rhystj and me). #dragonsbloodisland #beach #crystalclear


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Kids of Hadibou, playing at a waterhole that's locally known to have been created by a meteorite.
While child's play is currently under siege in large part of Yemen, where widespread famine renders kids unable to live normal lives, Socotra's kids are blessed with a more close connection to what a lot of us would call a paradise island.

#dragonsbloodisland #yemen #kidsatplay #swimjump


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