PJ Harvey released a new song on Wednesday that aims to address the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. Harvey composed “The Camp” with Egyptian musician Ramy Essam – who became internationally famous for his performances in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 – and the video contains photos of refugee children taken from photojournalist Giles Duley’s upcoming book I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See.
“The Camp” builds around light strumming on guitar and a jaunty whistle, but the easygoing instrumentation belies the song’s grim content. Harvey narrates from the point of view of someone outside a refugee camp peering helplessly at those who are stuck inside. “Free the children, free them,” she sings. “I prayed and waited for an angel/ I waited, but no angel came.”
The black-and-white clip mixes shots of Harvey and Essam recording in the studio with photos taken by Duley of Syrian children displaced to the Bekaa valley in Lebanon. “It is hard to comprehend the scale of the crisis in Lebanon, a country of 4 million now hosting over 1 million Syrian refugees,” Duley said in a statement. “The infrastructure of the country is pushed to its limit, and nowhere is that situation more desperate than in the Bekaa Valley.”
“The Camp” will be available for download on June 9th. Profits from the track’s sales will go to Beyond Association, “a Lebanese non-governmental organization for non-profit aiming at promoting social, economic, cultural, educational, environment and health issues among several underprivileged groups.”
“Of the NGOs I have documented, none have impressed me more than Beyond,” Duley added. “To visit their schools and witness their programs is to see hope – and that is something we have to support.”