Afghan refugees in Nasir Bagh in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
UNHCR/ A. Tête/ November 1986
Country of Origin: Afghanistan
Country of Asylum: Ukraine
Date of birth: 1961
Art kept Akbar Khurasani sane through the long years of war in Afghanistan and he now makes a living as a professional artist in Ukraine.
Born in a small village, high in the mountains of Uruzgan province, Khurasani attended school but also had to help out at home. He moved to the Afghan capital, Kabul, at the age of 15 and was drafted into the army, where he became a senior lieutenant. During his military service, Khurasani started attending art classes in the local Soviet House of Science and Culture. His first tutor was an artist from Moscow, and painting became Khurasani's first and greatest passion.
Both Khurasani's teachers and military commanders understood that he had a gift. He was given the opportunity to go to the USSR to study at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts. After postgraduate studies with leading artists, he turned professional, specialising in portraits and still life. The Ukrainian government granted him refugee status.
"Art saved me from insanity, which has overtaken many of my compatriots during the endless and absurd civil war," he says. "The place where I came from is beautiful but probably there is nothing left there, everything is ruined after so many years of the murderous war".
When in March 1999, UNHCR and the Adventist Agency for Assistance and Development opened a social centre for refugees in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Khurasani helped teach art to local and refugee children.
His paintings can be found in private collections all over the world. In June 2000, with the help of UNHCR, Khurasani, along with artists from other countries, presented his paintings at an International Art Festival in Kiev.