Bekaa Valley, LEBANON: Mohamad, 14, lost his arm in a rocket strike in Idlib Province, Syria. His two best friends were killed beside him. A piece of shrapnel is lodged near his heart and cannot be removed. He held his remaining hand over his chest, leaving traces of a thermal imprint.
Mohamad, 14, lost his arm in a rocket strike in Idlib Province, Syria. His two best friends were killed beside him. A piece of shrapnel is lodged near his heart and cannot be removed. Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Feb. 22, 2015.Liam Maloney
Bekaa Valley, LEBANON: Mohamad, 14, lost his arm in a rocket strike in Idlib Province, Syria. His two best friends were killed beside him. A piece of shrapnel is lodged near his heart and cannot be removed. He held his remaining hand over his chest, leaving traces of a thermal imprint.
ARAMOUN, LEBANON: This family fled Kabun, a village outside Damascus after protracted bombing forced them to leave the country. They live in a leaky shack in Aramoun, a village in the mountains near Beirut on the property of a Lebanese man who operates a landscaping and water distribution business. Wael, the husband, works there in exchange for shelter and electricity. Their visas in Lebanon have expired and he is unable to seek work without risking prison. They now have three children. Their youngest, Sara, died in Lebanon at 36 days old, probably due to exposure. The father had to pay $2,000 to bury her illegally under a tree in a Palestinian cemetery in Beirut. They told him he would never be able to visit her grave.
Aley, LEBANON: Aysam Al Msalem, 7 and his sister Maryam, 4 play wargames inside their cold and damp rooftop apartment.
Aley, Lebanon: Aysam Kwatly's stuffed horse lies on the floor of the illegally constructed rooftop apartment he shares with his mother and two younger sisters. Shortly after arriving in Lebanon from Saaba (outside Damascus) in 2012, Aysam's father lost his mind. He used to walk around town, his fist raised in the air, cursing Bashar al-Assad and screaming obscenities. Locals made fun of him or beat him up. Eventually, he was hospitalized, where he was diagnosed with an acute neurodegenerative disease. His wife thinks it was the stress of leaving home and being unable to find work to support his family that led to his illness.She says that when they speak on the phone, she canít understand what he is saying - he doesn;t make any sense. Once, he called, asking about their youngest daughter. He claimed to have seen her murdered. He was in an absolute panic. Now, his wife doesnít answer the phone anymore when he calls.Sometimes, Aysam ties the horseís front legs together, ìthe way they do in Syriaî. He has been deeply affected by the war and especially by his fatherís departure back to Syria to receive medical care.
Aley, LEBANON: Fawaz Rahal, a 75-year old grandfather and retired math teacher is originally from Bab el Drib, Homs in Syria.The family left 3 years ago, in 2012. Their house was completely destroyed by a mortar, as was his son's business - a store that sold paint and painterís supplies. The left everything behind when they fled for Lebanon. All they think about is returning home, but nothing is left for them there anymore.
Aley, LEBANON: A child's feet radiate warmth after being curled up in her mother's arms.
Aley, LEBANON: A television screen reflects the thermal outlines of this photographer and two members of a family who fled Syria.
Aley, LEBANON: Maya Rahal, 2 was just 24 days old when she came to Lebanon with her family. She was born in Tadmor, inside Syria. After they arrived, her mother was sick for almost 2 months from nervous exhaustion.
A Syrian refugee keeps pigeons near his tent in a large refugee tented encampment near Zahle. The pigeons are raised for sport. They can be released to fly over the camp but  will always return to their home.
Mohamad, 14, lost his arm in a rocket strike in Idlib Province, Syria. His two best friends were killed beside him. A pi
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Liam Maloney
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See the Life of Syrian Refugees Through a Thermal Camera

Apr 29, 2015

The war in Syria has created one of the largest refugee populations in the world, yet, four years after the start of the conflict, the humanitarian crisis fails to make headlines.

“The cavalcade of information and visual overload can lead to a sense of helplessness and a sort of compassion fatigue,” photographer Liam Maloney tells TIME. “We've seen so many pictures of the refugees, and it has this numbing effect on readers and viewers.”

The Canadian photographer began documenting conflict in 2006, when he visited Lebanon to cover the aftermath of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. “It was my first time in a country that had been affected by conflicts, and honestly I was shocked by what I saw,” he says.

When the war broke out in Syria, Lebanon became Maloney’s base to document the displacement of fleeing refugees. “In conflict, it’s always the civilians, [who] end up getting harmed the most,” he says.

But Maloney didn't want to contribute to a pool of expected scenes of distress. Instead, he bought a thermal camera to the homes of refugees during this year’s record-breaking winter.

“Syrian civilians and particularly refugees have been stripped of their humanity, and this is something the thermal camera does as well,” says Maloney. The technology, widely used in military and industrial applications, reduces reality into a two-dimensional, tri-colored image, discernible only by the imprints made from heat emanating from the subject.

To avoid objectifying the refugees, whose faces are unrecognizable, Maloney made sure to attach real stories to the images — and the resulting photographs are agonizing. One image captures the contour of a 14-year-old boy who has lost one arm in a rocket strike in Syria. In another, a family of six is huddled tightly together in a leaky shack.

“The photos showed people reduced to something very basic that we all have in common,” Maloney says, “that is human body temperature.”

Liam Maloney is a Canadian documentary photographer and videographer. He has recently been selected for the Open Society Foundation's Moving Walls 23 exhibition in New York in October 2015.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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