Stories, film, and image resources

Note: This page is frequently updated. It is by no means complete.

This page focuses on first-person stories and films that depict life as a refugee. Links to Facebook and/or websites and/or the filmsite are just below the stories or films' descriptions. Descriptions are from their Facebook page or website, unless noted.


Logo for I Am Immigrant
I Am Immigrant
An alternative way of covering refugee's crisis: the volunteering journalism. After spending 45 days living at the camp of Piraeus, in Greece, now we came back to Athens in order to teach young immigrants basic notions of photography and video making. At the end of the workshops, they are producing and shooting their own documentary. An independent project consisted in diving refugees a voice.

Note. Both the Facebook page and the website have examples of their work - both photography and films.


Logo for Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures has many films - documentaries and shorts - on refugees. Some of them are included below, but it's worthwhile to search their catalog, for there are many more. Their company overview: "For over twenty years Journeyman has distributed and co-produced, provocative, profound and original factual content, working with the top players in the industry. We're one of the leading independent suppliers of award winning stories to the world broadcast market and pride ourselves on a position at the spearhead of the factual agenda. With a very successful catalogue covering a myriad of subjects and styles; commercial, current affairs and feature docs, we always keep at heart a central journalistic ethic that goes to the very roots of the company."


Image for the Native and the Refugee
The Native and the Refugee
A multi-media project profiling the spaces of the Indian reservation and Palestinian refugee camp: spaces of exception whose position in the struggle for native and Palestinian autonomy are essential. The Native and the Refugee will culminate in a feature-length documentary film.


Logo for Refugees United
Refugees United is a collective of artists worldwide, united by their experience as Refugees and committed to creating awareness, empathy and action across borders. Spanning the globe, this collective brings together an international community of people and artists with powerful stories to tell. 

​The featured art spans various mediums, revealing a piece of the artist's journey. We aim to break the stigma that is so often attached to being a Refugee by highlighting the successes of these exceptional artists; many of whom have transformed their situation to become active contributors to society, who truly add value and collectively define culture. We believe in the power of sharing stories and listening to one another, because as a community, we're stronger. 

​We continue to put on various events and exhibits, using art as a platform for expression, understanding, and change. Proceeds from the art sold go to the artist, Refugees United & carefully selected organizations working directly with refugees. 

Note. They are based in San Francisco! 


Logo for Shabab Radio
Shabab Radio is the 1st European cross-cultural webradio station with informative and entertaining programs in Arabic and English ( & more languages to come), broadcasting from Athens, Greece and soon from all over Europe. 

With Shabab Radio we want to provide a new space for refugees, migrants and locals involved in the refugee crisis & integration debate to express their voice in an uncensored manner and get heard. We also want to discuss issues that move us in our everyday life, discover our place from new, different angles, giving us a way clearer and more creative perspective on the reality around us. 

In the same time, we want to drive curiosity among the European society for our new fellow citizens, their stories, viewpoints and culture, offering an easy accessible tool to learn more and interact. This vibe has to go mainstream, because right here, right now, we are re-defining the path our generation will take, our values, our future. The 'team' needs to grow. There are places in the world, like the Middle East that allow for no inch of free expression and actions. Meanwhile there are places, like Europe where we tend to forget about the remaining freedom we have to change things and make a difference, despite the fact that political and economic systems neither here fully consider our voices. 

Considering this, we want to talk with each other instead of just talking about each other and build those new, necessary bridges to pave the way. We want to step on this road together and create an actual dialogue through music, culture, information, people. There’s no more time to speak about numbers, complain and stand still. 

We are all Shabab! 

"Shabab" is the Arabic word for 'buddies/kids/guys' or 'youth'; by sharp textbook definition the age group between 20 and 40, that we mainly aim to reach out to, the generation NOW. 


Logo for Shoufu - Stories from Chios
Shoufu - Stories from Chios
This page was set up to create a channel of communication based around the idea of a community of voices. We know the power of storytelling to enact change and therefore hope to use this community for two main purposes: To encourage people on the ground in Chios to document the injustices done to them and those around them. To make it as easy as possible for people around the world to see what is happening in Chios. This page can act as a clear reference point for updates on Chios but also be used as a platform to reach out to other areas in which similar events are occurring. By collecting media from many different people and posting it all in the same place, we hope to increase the accessibility of primary footage, and provide as many perspectives as possible.


Logo for Solomon
Solomon is a community of people with different backgrounds that through its activities aims to promote an alternative perspective of the local society; more functional for all its members.
And we do this through media! Our core team is consisted of talented people who live in Athens, Greece and originate from many countries. Being an immigrant or a refugee doesn’t mean that you can only express your thoughts about migration issues. That’s why our topics vary!

Our first activity is the publication of a digital magazine, written both in Greek and English and everyone is more than welcome to join. We encourage refugees & immigrants to join the co-shaping of society through the free expression of their views, ideas & skills. Involving locals in equal terms is a prerequisite in every phase of each project because we recognize that social integration is an issue that concerns all of us as a whole and not refugees and immigrants alone.
We focus on the collaboration. Everyone is actively involved and this philosophy leads us to take into account every scope of what we are working on.

The title of Solomon originates from the main character of the book “The Elephant’s Journey” by the Portuguese author Jose Saramago. The book tells the story of Solomon, an elephant who does not speak with words but only with actions. The king of Portugal gave Solomon to the Archduke of Austria as a wedding gift, and Solomon travelled from Lisbon to Vienna on foot. However, before that, Solomon had to walk from India to Portugal as well, when the king first purchased him. During his journeys, Solomon ‘transforms’ into various personalities through the eyes of the people he meets, although in reality, his character remains the same. This, with the long distances he travels, makes him a symbolic representative of refugees and immigrants.



Image for A Crisis of Anxiety Among Aid Workers
(image: Cristobal Schmal)
A Crisis of Identity Among Aid Workers - Rosalie Hughes, March 8, 2015, NY Times
"An idyllic Mediterranean beach in Tunisia is not usually a place of high anxiety, but that’s where I spent the worst day of my life. I hadn’t slept in three nights and called in sick to work because I could no longer think. I felt I was losing my mind and spent the day as a zombie on the beach, feeling empty and alone on the sand."

Note. This poignant article by an aid worker illustrates how important it is for aid workers to be valued, to have support, and to practice self-care. Facebook groups have become vehicles for support for these important workers, whether paid or volunteer.

The complete story

Image from Fremmed
Do you have a story to tell?

Fremmed is a newly founded web magazine which aims to spread cultural awareness about immigration. We are looking for people who are willing to share their stories, short or long, for readers to read and experience. Our core value is that all humans are equal, and that by sharing our experiences with one another we also learn to relate to each other. This relation is essential, because we are, after all, humans.

If you have story to tell, an experience to share, or an opinion to discuss, contact us on or by sending us a message on facebook.

We are also looking for photographers, artists, musicians, programmers and writers. You do not need to know norwegian, and we welcome all contributions.

Example of a story -- "Notes from a Refugee Camp"

Logo for The Frontier
The Frontier
The biggest story in the world right now is migration. But Refugees should stop making the headlines, and start writing them. Here you’ll find refugee writers, filmmakers, and content producers. Sign up get the best news, photos, videos, opinions and analysis from the Frontier.


Logo for Find the Ghost Boat
Find the Ghost Boat
We're hunting for the occupants of a refugee boat who vanished in 2014. Can you help us find out where they went?or

Note. Links to stories are on both their Facebook page and their website.


Image for For Syrians there is no such thing as an open border
For Syrians, There is No Such Thing as an Open Border - Hiba Diewati, February 22, 2016

"Kilis, Izmir – Turkey —  'I am suffocating.' It’s the sentence I hear the most when interviewing Syrians.

"Traveling throughout several Turkish cities in the past few weeks, it is now visibly clear that the noose is indeed tightening on Syrians in bordering countries. However, these new limitations may be driving more Syrians to head to Europe as Turkey becomes a more constricting environment."

The complete story

Image for A Fragile Future
A Fragile Future
Nearly 500,000 children live in regions of Syria still under siege, including close to 100,000 in eastern Aleppo alone.

2.6 million children are no longer in school, and more than 2.5 million are living as refugees, many on the run or in temporary camps.

To further illustrate the gravity of the situation for Syria's kids, cartoonist Andy Warner drew a powerful comic.


Image of the cover of A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea
UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Melissa Fleming writes the story of Doaa al-Zamel, a young Syrian refugee who is her own profile in courage.

Christian Science Monitor review
New York Journal of Books review

Logo for I am not a Refugee
I am not a Refugee
You fought for safety, now we will help you fight for a job. Fill in the blanks and together we will continue to write your story where it left off.

Note. Refugees are invited to submit a photo and their story -- about their professions, about their lives, about their hopes. This personalizes what is often an objectifying description: refugee.

Website [In English and Arabic]

Logo for In-Sight
In-Sight - Shining a light on global humanitari an crises through storytelling and advocacy. In-Sight is a global network of advocates that seeks to bring to light some of the largest and most difficult humanitarian crises our world faces. Our site is geared towards juxtaposing these crises with pictures and stories to demonstrate the humanity and resilience of those who are experiencing them, both as volunteers and as the survivors.  In doing this, we hope to successfully amplify the voices of those who often go unheard and to stir up a call to action by providing useful information and resources for those wanting to not only educate themselves, but also get involved.


Image for Lady SOS story
'Lady SOS': The woman saving Syrian refugees at sea - Sara Manisera, February 24, 2016
Nawal Soufy's phone number is passed to refugees who then contact her if their boat gets into trouble at sea.

The complete story

Image of the cover of The Lightless Sky
The Lightless Sky -- A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World
A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy’s traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.

“To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?”

In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali’s mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the twelve-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of twelve harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror—and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch in the 2012 London Games.

In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis—the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy—and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.

On Amazon

Image for Madaya Mom
Madaya Mom is the true story of one mother and her family who have been trapped inside the Syrian town of Madaya for more than a year. Madaya Mom is fighting off starvation, unsanitary living conditions and violent threats as she and her children are caught between warring factions in the country’s civil war.

The graphic novel
The making of the graphic novel
The blog of the reporter who first made contact with the Madaya Mom
Teachers' guide

Image on the cover of The Journey
Refugee Stories for Young Children

Logo for Refugee Streets
Refugee Streets
"They dream of becoming teachers, politicians, lawyers, diplomats, police officers, engineers, scientists. They dream of going to school and living healthy lives with their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Yet, their home countries are engulfed in conflict. They’re not just Syrians. There’s Sudanese, Afghans, Iraqis, Eritreans, Columbians, Somalians, Burmese and more. Still, their voices are often funneled through multiple coloured lenses before reaching the public.

"Refugee Streets aims to change that, providing refugees with a direct channel to the world."

Note. In English and Arabic. The website is a news service as well as a venue for story-telling.


Logo for Solomon
If you really think about it, we are part of a society (given its structure and evolution), which doesn’t take into account the individuals, who for various reasons, deliberate or not, have been marginalized by this very society. Solomon is not an initiative that has been created by locals in order to support immigrants and refugees alone. It’s an idea of working together as a team for the benefit of our society. Because at the end of the day, integration is an issue that affects not only one community, but society as a whole.

Solomon is a community of people with different backgrounds that through its activities aims to promote an alternative perspective of the local society; more functional for all its members.

And we do this through media! Our core team is consisted of talented people who live in Athens, Greece and originate from many countries. Being an immigrant or a refugee doesn’t mean that you can only express your thoughts about migration issues. That’s why our topics vary!

Our first activity is the publication of a digital magazine, written both in Greek and English and everyone is more than welcome to join. We encourage refugees & immigrants to join the co-shaping of society through the free expression of their views, ideas & skills. Involving locals in equal terms is a prerequisite in every phase of each project because we recognize that social integration is an issue that concerns all of us as a whole and not refugees and immigrants alone.

We focus on the collaboration. Everyone is actively involved and this philosophy leads us to take into account every scope of what we are working on.

The title of Solomon originates from the main character of the book “The Elephant’s Journey” by the Portuguese author Jose Saramago. The book tells the story of Solomon, an elephant who does not speak with words but only with actions. The king of Portugal gave Solomon to the Archduke of Austria as a wedding gift, and Solomon travelled from Lisbon to Vienna on foot. However, before that, Solomon had to walk from India to Portugal as well, when the king first purchased him. During his journeys, Solomon ‘transforms’ into various personalities through the eyes of the people he meets, although in reality, his character remains the same. This, with the long distances he travels, makes him a symbolic representative of refugees and immigrants.


Image for Stranded and Broke: A Modern Migrant's Story
Stranded and Broke: A Modern Migrant's Story
Struggling for money and living in a squalid and overcrowded refugee camp, Hannah is stuck with thousands of others in Greece.

Article and video interview

Logo for Syria Deeply
Syria Deeply
"is an independent digital media project led by journalists and technologists that explores a new model of storytelling around a global crisis. Our goal is to build a better user experience of the story by adding context to content, using the latest digital tools of the day. Over time the hope is to add greater clarity, deeper understanding and more sustained engagement to the global conversation.

"Syria Deeply is a part of News Deeply, a new media startup and social enterprise based in New York. We are registered as a B Corp, or Benefit Corporation, with the stated mission of advancing foreign policy literacy through public service journalism. We receive no government funding, instead earning our revenues through a mix of foundation grants and digital-design services. Our client partners include the World Economic Forum, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Baker Institute at Rice University."


Image for Syria via WhatsApp
Syria via WhatsApp: The Messages That Hold Refugee Families Together

They send back messages of love, hope and sorrow. Hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees have fled their homeland for Jordan, Turkey and, in increasing numbers, Europe. But families separated by thousands of miles still stay connected, thanks to smartphones and applications like the cross-platform mobile messaging program WhatsApp.


Logo for Through Refugee Eyes
Through Refugee Eyes
From bombs to borders, this page holds our personal stories and journeys as refugees. Wishing for our voice back, we are grateful you are here.


Image for A Typical Story of a Refugee Seeking Safety
A Typical Story of a Refugee Seeking Safety
Rajeed's Journey: "An illustrated series that shows the typical journey of a refugee seeking safety."

The story

Image for the Unknown Journey of Syria's Refugees
The Unknown Story of Syria's Refugees

"The dangerous sea and land crossings that Syrian refugees are making to Europe have been well-documented, but less well known are the equally perilous journeys people take to leave Syria itself. In this first installment of a two-part series, Syria Deeply examines the illegal journey from Damascus to Turkey."

Note. The story is in two parts. The link below is to the first part.

The story

Logo for Voices of Refugees
Voices of Refugees
Amidst one of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, millions of displaced refugees and asylum-seekers are fleeing war-torn countries affected by conflict. Through all of the unimaginable violence, pain, and torture, these people are seeking a path to safety and peace.

Voices of Refugees is a collection of stories revealing the human perspective behind the global refugee crisis. Men, women, and children, each with their own unique stories, are risking their lives seeking refuge from war and violence. Along their journeys to safety, many have found themselves stranded in camps for months on end, or struggling for years to maintain a steady life due to endless bureaucratic limbo. This project aims at shedding a light on individual stories, through the various mediums of photography, texts, audio and video, in an effort to expose the realities of human displacement.

Voices of Refugees was started by Shayanne Gal and Clara Veale, two volunteers working on the ground at refugee camps in Greece, who felt compelled to share the simultaneously raw, beautiful, distressing, and profoundly human stories of the people they have shared their hours with each day. Beyond Greece, Voices of Refugees has transformed into a collective space for international refugee stories from across the globe.

This series is a collaborative project aiming to share individual stories and perspectives from refugees and displaced peoples all over the globe. If you have a unique voice to add to this narrative, we encourage you to submit your stories, photos, or videos to this platform.


Image for Wandering Refugee Tales
Wandering Refugee Tales
Refugee children from various camps in Thessaloniki tell their stories in the book “Wandering Refugee Tales,” recounting their adventures away from home.

Unlike their situation, the stories the refugee children tell in the book have happy endings.

The book is written by volunteers from around the world who work in refugee hospitality facilities in Thessaloniki and listened to the refugee children telling their stories.

“We worked with 16 refugee children from 6 to 14 years old, and we asked them to tell us stories, which all chose to have a happy end,” Debora de Pina Castiglione, one of the creators of the project told ANA-MPA news agency.

Article with information about ordering

Image for the Worldwide Tribe
The Worldwide Tribe
"I'm Jaz and at the moment, me, my family and a few friends are bringing you the stories of the refugees we are meeting in Calais and Lesvos.

"We have been making regular trips and spending lots of time, eating, sleeping and working in the 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, as well as in Lesvos, Greece, supporting people as they arrive in Europe on boats.

"Our little team having been working on various projects on the ground such as supporting existing organisations and long term volunteers, setting up a volunteer programme in Lesvos, installing WiFi and facilitating a football tournament in the Jungle camp in Calais, funding a fire truck for the Jungle and much much more!"


Image for the article "Yet Another Refugee"
Yet Another Refugee - an article by Laila Soudi and Sarah Dadouch



Logo for the film 4.1 Miles
4.1 Miles
This is Daphne Matziaraki’s thesis filmwhich depicts the refugee crisis in her native Greece. Matziaraki, a 2016 graduate in documentary filmmaking, has already been honored with a Student Academy Award, which automatically put her in the running for an Oscar. Here's her "About" statement from her website: "Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a 41-year old local captain of the Greek Coast Guard. He has two wonderful young daughters Vivi and Melissa, and before the refugee crisis exploded in 2014, he had a “normal” life. Lesbos was a small peaceful island and is job involved routine border patrols. Him, like the rest of the crew isn’t trained to do CPR. His boat is not equipped with thermal cameras or other instruments that would help deal with such an emergency. Often times, the captain had to disobay orders and despite rough weather he would continue to go out in the sea to save as many lives as possible. There have been plenty of times that he could turn his back. But he’s choosing to do the opposite: to respond."

California, the Cal Alumni magazine - January 23, 2017
NY Times Opinion - September 28, 2016
The film

Image from the film 9 Days From My Window in Aleppo
9 Days From My Window in Aleppo
In August 2012, Syrian photographer Issa Touma awoke to the dawn of the rebel uprising in the city of Aleppo. He spent the next nine days holed up in his apartment, filming the emerging civil war outside.

The film

Logo for the film Aleppo - Notes from the Dark
Aleppo - Notes from the Dark is a documentary film about the situation in Syria's largest city - Aleppo. 

The film shows the life of Aleppo from the perspective of seven of its residents, struggling with the hardships of war.

Next to exploding bombs, under sniper fire, the characters in the film talk about the revolution and their own dreams. A social journalist, a street vendor, a cleric, an entrepreneur, a doctor from a field hospital, a shopkeeper – ordinary people with dreams of freedom.

Situations from the front lines are interspersed with Quran study in moments of relaxation. Humanitarian aid to the needy is mixed with unrest and protests in the street. A soldier tends to his wounded son, a doctor struggles for the life of the victims, a filmmaker prepares new material.

Mohammad Sayeed, a journalist from Aleppo Media Center, documents the disastrous situation in the city. Imam Qasim, an Islamic cleric in one of the poor neighbourhoods, tries to help neighbours affected by the war. Dr. Ammar Zakaria, a former Syrian officer, is a doctor at one of the makeshift field hospitals, struggling for the lives of the wounded. Abu Mahia delivers free bread to some of most affected families in the city.

The other three characters put up armed resistance against the regime. Abu Ahmed is an insurgent in the Free Syrian Army. He fights in the Old Town. Majid Fleyes, commander of the Center Front, oversees Karaj al Hajis. It is the only passage open for civilians between areas controlled by the regime and those of the opposition – a kind of sniper alley.

The last character is Abu Haider, a commander of a radical brigade of Islamic soldiers associated in Jabhat Al Nusra, defined as a terrorist grouping.

The film presents a panorama of characters and then lets them speak. Shocking reporter accounts of rescue operations after the bombardments are complemented by the characters’ deliberations on Islam, the religion that builds their identity. What do they do when dark despair engulfs their souls?

The authors shot the film in the bombarded city for 44 days. They created a unique record of the situation in Syria.

Film (for a nominal £1)

Image from the film American Baghdad
American Baghdad
A short documentary profiling Iraqi refugees trying to assimilate to American culture after being displaced from Iraq due to the war. El Cajon, a county in San Diego, has one of the highest concentrations of Iraqi refugees in America. A majority of these refugees are known as Chaldean and are of Christian descent. Many of them fled Iraq after the war broke out in 2003. This is their story.

Supported by a grant from the Creative Catalyst Fund of the San Diego Foundation, and by Cal Humanities.


Image for Dugma the Button
Dugma - The Button

An intimate portrait of a group of very different suicide bombers working for Al Qaeda in Syria. From the Saudi who loves singing and fried chicken, to a 26-year-old white British convert who worries a lot about his new wife, this remarkable film embeds with an unlikely bunch of "martyrdom seekers", each waiting for their turn to go on a final mission, known by Jihadis as 'Dugma'.

Newsweek article

Image of The End of the Line (film)
The End of the Line - The Uncertain Future of the Western World
From the filmmaker, Adam Westbrook: "The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe is one of the most controversial, fast-changing and divisive topics of our time."


Image from the film Exodus
See the global migration crisis through footage filmed by refugees themselves -- on sinking dinghies, in the trucks of human traffickers, and inside the countries they hope to call home. In one of the most harrowing scenes from "Exodus," Syrian refugee Hassan attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea on an overcrowded inflatable dinghy -- and films what happens as the boat begins taking on water.

This is a Frontline film first aired on PBS on December 27, 2016.

Interview with the filmmaker
The film

Image from For My Son
For My Son
Immerse into virtual reality and experience the journey of Firas, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee. From seeing the bombed out buildings of Aleppo to the city streets of Jordan, experience the journey of a refugee striving to rebuild far from home.

Our new 360 virtual reality film, For My Son, is a compliment to our feature film on refugees, Salam Neighbor.

Website (with a link to the film and behind-the-scenes looks)

Poster for Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea)
Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea)
The documentary captures life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis. Situated some 200km off Italy’s southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe. Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea.

Website (live-stream the film)

Image for Getting Left Behind: Burmese Migrants in Thailand
Getting Left Behind: Burmese Migrants in Thailand
This documentary was created by Jacob Roesch, [a graduate student in Public Policy at Berkeley]. Millions of people from Burma go to Thailand, seeking economic opportunity and refuge from political and ethnic-based oppression in Burma. Some are undocumented and underpaid, and many are denied basic rights and legal protection. Non-Governmental Organizations can provide some social services, such as education and health care, but now their continued existence is threatened, as more and more donors have shifted their attention to groups working inside Burma, resulting in less funding for migrant-focused groups. Nevertheless, the migrants won't be going anywhere soon, since the Thai economy relies on their cheap labor. Filmed in February and March, 2016.

The film

Image for Going Home to War
Going Home to War
The Syrian war has seen the greatest mass migration of our time, as millions have been driven from their homes. But now another exodus is taking place: people are going back into Syria. Why are people going home, to war?

Xenophobia is rising as Europe strains under the pressure of over a million Syrian refugees, but few, if any, of those men, women and children wanted to leave their country in the first place. “I have no reason to stay here”, explains Fatema, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan. Returning to the homeland, the extremity of the damage that the war has done to the country becomes evident. Fatema recalls: "Hrak used to be a thriving city. There were shops from one end of town to the other, on both sides of the street. Now it’s all destroyed." This is not a choice to be taken lightly, but these people have decided it is better to live in fear of war and death than live as outcasts in another country.


Growing Home [is a film that] shows you what it might be like if your life was suddenly uprooted and you were forced to make a new home in a refugee camp in the desert. It shows the will and determination of these individuals to make decent lives for themselves despite the odds being against them. When you watch this film, keep in mind that Samer could be you or your brother or neighbor or friend, and remember that these refugees may never be able to return to their homes without the support of the capable and willing people of the world.

Samer, a displaced Syrian barber, has taken refuge along with his young family in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Despite filling his time with meaningful work, caring for his family and improving his living conditions, the daily distractions cannot diminish his desire to return home.


Image from the film Hello My Name Is
Hello My Name Is
"The need to express oneself, to play and be creative is central to being human". This is a short animation created by a group of children who are refugees sharing their story in their own way. 

In 2016 the EU/Turkey deal came into effect and left tens of thousands of people who are refugees stranded in Greece. Many were detained in camps on the Greek islands and on the main land. The conditions in these camps are unsanitary and inhumane and these conditions are not such that any human, let alone a child should have to live in.

Each and every child refugee that had to make the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece has experienced trauma. Some have experienced more trauma in a few short years than any human should have to go through in an entire lifetime

No child should ever have to go through these things in life.

The political situation is beyond the understanding or control of many of the children in these camps so we thought we could encourage something that is vitally lacking in the camps or perhaps in their lives currently. Play. A sense of self. A creative outlet for self expression. We collaborated on various projects and this was the outcome of one of them.

This animation was part of a psycho-social program aimed at creating something fun, a way for the children to share their own stories through a medium that appealed to them. The process was guided by what they wanted to say and share and reflected the positivity and resilience of the children.

weareone: collective is a network of change makers, collaborating, innovating and sharing our skills and resources to enable social change working on the ground with marginalised communities in situ.


Image from the film I am Refugee
I am Refugee is set against the poem Refugee Blues, by W. H Auden, as it captures everyday life of migrants struggling to survive in makeshift homes.

The short film was created by 27-year-old Londoner Christian Gordine who filmed the project while working as a volunteer in the migrant camp.

Filmmaker Christian said it was hard to switch off from the ‘emotional process’ of filming at the camp, where he helped to set up tents, and distribute blankets and sleeping bags.

He told the Standard: “The images of Alan Kurdi washed up on the Turkish shoreline was a monumental wakeup call - this for me was the major trigger which truly widened my eyes to the severity of the situation.

Article about the film with a link to the film

In This World
Jamal and Enayatullah are Afghan refugees in a camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. They travel to Quetta, and thence to Taftan on the Iranian border. They pay people smugglers to assist them over the border; on their first attempt they are stopped by Iranian police and returned to Pakistan, but their second attempt is successful. They travel to Tehran and then to Maku, in the Kurdish part of Iran, from where they cross a mountain range on foot to Turkey. In Istanbul they meet a group of other migrants, and they are taken to Italy inside a shipping container. The container is not ventilated, and most of the refugees, including Enayatullah, are suffocated to death. Jamal survives and lives in Italy for a time. He then steals a woman's purse and buys a rail ticket to Paris. From there, he goes to the Sangatte asylum seekers camp and with a new friend, Yusef, he crosses the channel by stowing away on a lorry. Finally, he arrives in London, where he calls his uncle to say he has arrived but that Enyatullah is "not in this world". The film ends with images of the Peshawar refugees.


Image for Island of Refuge film
Island of Refuge "(#islandofrefuge) is an independent feature length documentary about the refugee crisis on Lesbos, in Greece. The film has a particular focus on the local people and how they have experienced and are responding to the crisis. I am also taking portrait photographs of the local people on Lesbos and these are available in limited addition in the rewards section. There will be a variety of exhibition opportunities for the film and ultimately my aim is to have "Island of Refuge" seen by as many people as possible as well as being a document summary of this island's iconic moment in history."

Note. This film is still in production. The trailer has a link to a crowdfunding site. 


Image from Light on the Sea
Light on the Sea: One Woman's Story From the Front Lines of the Refugee Crisis

Note. This film, by documentary filmmakers Micah Garen and Marie-Helene Carleton, focuses on a Syrian-American woman who is part of the rescue teams on Lesvos.


Migrant Odyssey
Every week up to 2000 migrants land on the Greek island Kos. Just 5km from Turkey it's a route to the EU previously little exploited. Now rich holiday makers share the idyllic beaches with desperate immigrants.

"'What is the name of this place?' asks a bedraggled migrant as he emerges from the sea, exhausted and disorientated. Over 68,000 migrants have arrived in Kos this year, as Greece tops Italy as the main sea entry point to Europe. It's another burden in an economically challenging time, yet some locals have begun to help the migrants with food and shelter. 'You see that people are in a worse situation than you are. We have to be more kind to each other,' says a local florist. Others resent sharing the island idyll. 'You're here on a holiday to relax and you don't really want them roaming around near your sunbeds,' says a Dutch tourist. But Kos is only the first leg of the migrants' journey to Eastern and Western Europe. 'Getting to Greece was the easy bit, I guess,' says Azar, a Syrian refugee.


Logo for Oh Canada
Oh, Canada
-- a song and film by Missy Higgins
Like most people, the photo of little Alan Kurdi being carried out of the water shook me to my core. We often read about the tragic plight of refugees but I think that picture exposed us to the reality in such a raw way that the truth became inescapable.'Oh Canada' simply aims to tell a story. It’s not preaching anything in particular, it’s simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness. If it also reminds people of what happened to Alan and his family then I think that would be good - after what they went through they don’t deserve to be forgotten. If the song reminds people how the picture of that lifeless little boy made them feel then that would be even better because that proves we’re all very similar people who just happen to live under different circumstances. If the song inspires anyone to do something on behalf of refugees - to speak up for their rights and to push back against those who seek to inflame our fears and prejudices - then I think that would be best of all. 'Oh Canada' is out now, with 100% of net proceeds from sales going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).The song is accompanied by a powerful animated video created by award winning director Natasha Pincus and animation director Nicholas Kallincos. Caritas and World Vision Australia support programs in Syria and neighbouring countries that create spaces where children can express their feelings of the past and hopes for the future. The drawings in the 'Oh Canada' video are by children in Caritas programs in Damascus, Syria and in World Vision programs in Beirut, Lebanon. Both the global Caritas network and World Vision have helped millions of people affected by the crisis in the Middle East.

Missy Higgins - 'Oh Canada' [Official Video]

Image for One Day
One Day is a short documentary which was made in two days 
It is an image of life of a refugee on Lesvos.


Image for Philoxenia
Philoxenia gives voice to independent volunteers who work with refugees and migrants in northem Greece, trying to make less hard this situation to those who do not have other choice but going through it. Six voices that reflect a reality of thousands of people, a solidarity impulse that has arisen against the passivity of institutions, the narrative of intolerance and social rejection.

Philoxenia are all those people who rise their voice to welcome those who only have the hope of a worthy future.

Website -- The Neighbor's Yard"
Film (YouTube)

Image from Portrait of Syria's Lost Generation
Portrait of Syria's Lost Generation

Since the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, millions of Syrians have fled their homes—more than half of them are under the age of 18. The short film Syria’s Lost Generation by Talking Eyes Media gives an intensely personal account of two teenagers living as refugees. It is an unflinching portrait of interrupted childhood and the burden of growing up too quickly.

Video [excuse the sponsor's ad in the beginning]
YouTube [without the ad, but showing Time as the sponsor]

Profiting from Misery - How smugglers bring people to Europe (February 18, 2016)
This animation explains the key facts about the two main routes used by criminal gangs to smuggle people, often under deplorable conditions, into Europe. Last year people smuggling networks made more than 4 billion Euros from their criminal activities.

Note. This animated film is by Frontex, the EU agency which "promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management."


Image from The Prime Minister of Turkey
The Prime Minister of Turkey
A short documentary by Can Adiloglu on Syrian Immigrant Children with subtitles in English, Arabic, and Turkish.


Image for the film Refuge
Refuge - Human Stories from the Refugee Crisis
A small team of filmmakers set out for Greece, documenting human stories from the frontlines of the European Refugee Crisis, focused on humanity and hope. The world was changing and we found ourselves at a crossroads in history, so we set out to help in the way that we knew best - with the telling, and sharing, of stories.


Image for Refugees
The Young Lions competition at Cannes is a stressful thing. You get briefed by a nonprofit on the Wednesday during the festival, and then you have 48 hours to come up with an idea, shoot original footage (on a camera the festival provides) and edit it all into a 60-second film. It's then presented to the Film jury, featuring some of the top creatives in the business.

It's a lot of pressure for the young creatives who compete. But this year's French team—comprised of Gautier Fage and Julien Bon, two twentysomething creatives at Paris agency Romance—rose to the challenge with a remarkable piece for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals initiative.

Article (with a link to the film)

Refugee Roulette
The rapid influx of refugees from conflict areas such as Syria has overwhelmed European countries, but how are the refugees coping with their new lives? The German government says they're welcome, but what's the reality?

"'Sometimes when I'm in the supermarket or I'm walking in the street, people look at me in a bad way and say bad words in German,' Muhammad Ismail says. He's been settled in Hoyerswerda in former East Germany, a region that's seen recent attacks on refugee housing by violent mobs of Neo-Nazis. 'I have friends, they told me to take care, to be careful,' he says. At Neo-Nazi rallies in Dresden, there's praise for Australia's asylum policy of turning back the boats. 'Instead of accepting them into Australia they send them back home,' Jens Baur from the far right NPD party tells a crowd outside a refugee camp. In spite of the hostility faced by many refugees arriving in Europe, returning home could lead to far worse circumstances. As Syrian refugee Abu Fahdi explains: 'I left my family so I could try to save them. There was absolutely no other way to save them except coming here.'"


Logo for Refugee Film Cafe
The Refugee Film Café is a pop-up cafe/summit on the current doings of the refugee program initiatives and start-ups in Berlin and in Europe. It welcomes international visitors from the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, and will hold talks and refugee related film screenings, along the sale of food created by a number of refugee kitchen projects, alternating daily during the run.

Located 200 meters from Potsdamer Platz with a 16th floor penthouse view (in the former Bel Air Hotel), guests are invited to take part, as people from all over the world share the enriching experience of our activities with refugees, Berlinale attendees and Berliners alike. Journalists, actors, films, cinema, international film and media culture are invited to join in and learn more about the situation of new arrivals in our city as a curated alternating daily program with films, discussion and food from different countries is offered. Screenings in particular, of selected short and long films from different countries will also be available for viewing, offering an additional perspective on the current film work of migrants.


Poster for A Requiem for Syrian Refugees
A Requiem for Syrian Refugees -- Life is like a wheel. It turns. A Documentary Film by Richard Wolf.
A Requiem for Syrian Refugees is a poignant journey of survival, resilience and empowerment.

Requiem is a wrenching documentary that features epic landscapes and compelling candid testimonies of Syrian refugees. Requiem offers an unprecedented in-depth perspective on the daily lives and feelings of refugees. Requiem was shot with a crew of refugees who felt the urgency to convey their situation to the world, including Rokn, a teenage girl who is featured in the film taking photos of life in the camp to preserve the memory of their experience.

Scored to Gabriel Faure’s famous Requiem, the film is a touching portrait of the dire conditions and anxiety faced by refugees, as well as a celebration of the human spirit facing adversity. Shot on location in Northern Iraq in stark black and white, Requiem is a powerful tale of suffering and courage, a universal reminder of the civilian toll and trauma of the 21st. century wars.

Requiem is an artistic statement against indifference of the suffering of millions, a non-partisan call for humanity and compassion.


Image for Salam Neighbor
Salam Neighbor
Seven miles from war, 85,000 Syrians struggle to restart their lives inside Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp. For the first time in history, two filmmakers fully embed themselves in the camp, providing an intimate look at the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis. 

From meeting Um Ali, a woman struggling to overcome personal loss and cultural barriers, to the street smart, 10-year-old Raouf, whose trauma hides just beneath his ever present smile, Zach and Chris uncover inspiring stories of individuals rallying, against all odds, to rebuild their lives and those of their neighbors.

Note. Available on Netflix.

- trailer

Image for the film Symphony for a Fallen Syria
Album cover of the Symphony for a Fallen Syria aka Syrian Symphony
Symphony for a Fallen Syria

MP3 file

Image from the film This is the Story of Yaman
This is the Story of Yaman
A collaborative project with CreativeConnection and The Worldwide Tribe to tell the story of Yaman as he faced landmines and gunfire to cross the border to Turkey with his young family. 


Image from the film This is the Story of Zeinah
This is the Story of Zeinah
A collaborative project with CreativeConnection and The Worldwide Tribe to tell the story of Zeinah as she faces the difficult decision to leave her country in order to safe herself and the lives of her family.i


Image for Syrian Women Refugees
Syrian Women Refugees
The number of Syrian refugees is currently approaching 4 million, with UN data showing women and children make up over three-quarters of that total. Hundreds of thousands from this diaspora are living in sprawling refugee camps along Turkey's southern border, and in a new short documentary by filmmaker Aliya Naumoff, a few women are sharing a look into life in those compounds.

Aided by the U.S.-Turkey relations advocacy group the Turkish Heritage Organization, Naumoff traveled to the Harran and Akcakale camps near the border with Syria, where she interviewed a number of women and girls about their experiences. What she found and decided to showcase in her film was an incredible resilience from female refugees who had fled the brutal conflict in their home country.

Article and the film

Transit Documentary is about the stories of Syrian refugees during their difficult journey to Europe. The documentary shows the suffering and sorrow of refugees after leaving Syria and on their way to Western Europe. These stories were told by Syrians themselves, while meeting them in the largest refugee reception camp in Eastern Europe, the Slavonski Brod Temporary Admission Centre in Croatia.

Film trailer

Image for Two at the Border film
Two at the Border - A documentary by Tuna Kaptan and Felicitas Sonvilla
Ali and Naser are two young Arabs, a Syrian and a Palestinian, respectively. Based in the Turkish city of Edirne, they help refugees cross the border into Greece. Recently, most of these refugees have been from Ali's native Syria, mostly men who are trapped between a government army that makes them shoot civilians and rebel groups that hunt down the soldiers. European authorities are working hard to patrol the border, part of which runs along a river. And because more and more manpower and means are being employed to stop the flow of refugees, this human trafficking is growing more dangerous and complicated each day. Filmmakers Tuna Kaptan and Felicitas Sonvilla follow the two men from close up as they hang around their apartment, smoke, chat about their families at home (where they might just return one day), and prepare their missions to get their clients out of Turkey. The camera also accompanies them on a trip to the border. Ultimately, it all looks pretty abysmal for both the men and their clients alike, as far fewer of these refugees are making it into Greece.

Note. This documentary was made by two students in 2013. It is subtitled in both German and English. Only the trailer is available for free.]


Image for The Uprooting
The Uprooting is a documentary project that explores the refugee crisis through the stories of its protagonists. It aims to go beyond the daily headlines and forefront the voices of refugees in an examination of the traumas of war, the challenges of exile and the contours of an evolving diaspora. The first part of the project, "Stories," is a collection of interviews with refugees in different stages of the prolonged and problematic process of migration—beginning with people making arrangements to be smuggled out of Turkey and ending with those who have been granted asylum in countries like Sweden, England, and Germany. The Uprooting's second part, "Places," displays the work of photographers who have been documenting the crisis in the different places where it continues to unfold.

The Uprooting aims to become an open platform so that different actors can make contributions. We hope that more and more refugees and photographers add their own stories to this growing polyphonic narrative of mass migration.


Image from the film The Wait
The Wait (a 360-degree-film by two Berkeley Journalism students)
Germany opened its doors to refugees from all over the world, and specifically those fleeing Syria. "The fundamental right to asylum for the politically persecuted knows no upper limit; that also goes for refugees who come to us from the hell of a civil war," Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in September 2015.

Since then, the narrative in much of mainstream U.S. media has echoed with overwhelming numbers: “Germany to Spend $6.6 Billion on 800,000 Refugees and Migrants”“Germany is taking in more refugees in 2015 than the US has in the past 10 years” and “Germany's refugee bill to top $22 billion.”. The current humanitarian problem has been touted as one of the worst refugee crises since World War II.

This project aims to provide perspectives absent from much of the current news on refugees around the globe — a peek into what life is like for those who have made it to Europe in search of safety, freedom, better lives.

In January 2016, we conducted interviews with asylum seekers in five different German cities. This new media project tells their stories in text, animation, interviews and 360 video.


What if we helped refugees to help themselves?

Today [November 18, 2015], Europe is facing a mass influx of refugees, just as it did when Alexander Betts began working on this topics, 16 years ago. Politicians and the international community are struggling to deal with or even formulate a common answer. The current Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford will shed more light on misconceptions and facts around this issue, challenging you to rethink many aspects of the crisis.


Image for the film Waynak "Where are you?"
Waynak is 'where are you?" in Arabic, an innocuous question we often say on the phone, but which becomes more meaningful when millions of people are fleeing conflict in the Middle East and are scattered thousands of kilometers from each other.

"Waynak" is a six-part web documentary that seeks to open new perspectives on the refugee crisis. Produced by MakeSense, "Waynak" presents men and women who have developed practical solutions to problems encountered on the road of refugees, and shows us how to move from screen to reality. 

Episode 1: Istanbul, Turkey

Owen, Bashar and Yasu, from three different worlds, find themselves in a city that straddles two continents, where the mixture of cultures is what is more natural. They are part of the country music group Country for Syria in Istanbul formed by 10 musicians - American, Turkish, Kurdish, Syrian, and European. Each offers style and voice to this eclectic group that plays on the similarities between Western folk music, Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish. These three characters embody an important reality of the migration crisis that is often overlooked by the media. To create beauty and seal friendships at the heart of such chaos is not a miracle, but a choice.

Episode 1: Music Has No Race

Episode 2: Someone Was Here

Episode 3: There Was a Need

Episode 4: Sing Don't Speak

Episode 5: Even Normal People Belong

Episode 6: You Have To Open It

TItle for What It's Like to Leave Iraq for a Life in America
What It's Like to Leave Iraq For a Life in America

In 2007, Ahmed Al Kubaisi was walking past the American base in Fallujah, Iraq, when he was allegedly shot by an American sniper. Al Kubaisi, then 15 years old, was paralyzed from the waist down. This short film by Luisa ConlonHanna Miller, and Lacy Jane Roberts of Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism chronicles how Al Kubaisi left his family behind and was resettled in the Bay Area in 2013 by the UN Refugee Agency. Predictably, he has complicated feelings to navigate about America—having suffered greatly during the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but also finding treatment and making friends upon moving.

The filmmakers are working on a longer documentary about Al Kubaisi, as well as a short film about Syrian women responding to the refugee crisis in Jordan. This documentary was supported by UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. The video features an original score by musician Nicholas Littlemore, of the band Empire of the Sun.

Video [excuse the sponsor's message]


There are many images that capture the suffering of people who are fleeing war in the Middle East. These are some of the best.

These Are The Most Powerful Photographs Of The Syrian Refugee Crisis In 2015

Collected by Lynzy Billing for BuzzFeedNews


Image from The Children in a Syrian Refugee Camp
The children of Syrian refugee camps - in pictures

Photographer Amy Smyth travelled to a series of refugee camps in Jordan last summer to document the lives of the children there. She found people trying desperately to live a normal life in extraordinary circumstances.

Note. From The Guardian, January 29, 2016.


Logo for DrawFugees
DrawFugees is nothing more that giving the children a white paper with colourful pencils to show their emotions, fears and visions about the past and future. "Children’s drawings express their hopes, wishes, dreams, visions, and also anxieties, fears, hurts, and worries about past and future". Waldorf Library.


Image of Kyle Merritt Ludowitzd
Kyle Merritt Ludowitz
is an "International Conflict Zone Photojournalist" who is currently enrolled in Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

Images from the Syrian Civil War

Logo for Nima Yaghmaei Photography
Life of a Migrant
is a photography series telling the day to day stories of displaced people from around the world. Nima Yaghmaei from We2 travels in the search of documenting what it means to be displaced in the modern world by which he hopes to shed light on the misconceptions of identity politics.

Facebook - Nima Yaghmaei's page. Go to Photos -> Albums for more images of displaced people.

Logo for ImPortraits
Portraits of Refugees - a project from ImPORTRAITS - Portraits Depicting Importance
People escaping can only take the most important items with them. Importraits portrays refugees witht their most important item that they were able to cary along and tells their stories and why this item means the world to them. While we have more than we need.When looking at the portraits we will take with us. For a very short moment we are in the same situation as the refugees were. What do you want to do?


Image for The Refugee Crisis Told Through Syrian Artists
The Refugee Crisis Told Through Syrian Artists

"These artists paint and sculpt memories of their homeland, either to immortalize the memory of its beauty or as a form to express grief of searing images — their houses destroyed, their neighbors and countrymen unburied on the streets. Many of the paintings explore the role of media in communicating the conflict to the outside world- how the conflict is being framed and packaged to people, what is being highlighted and what isn’t."


Image for The sons of war:  Syria's refugees - in pictures
The sons of war: Syria's refugees - in pictures
A collection of photographs by Brazilian photographer and filmmaker, Gabriel Chaim, who specialises in humanitarian conflict. This project focuses on people affected by the crisis 


Image for Syrian Refugee Kids Were Told to Draw Whatever They Wanted
Syrian Refugee Kids Were Told To Draw Whatever They Wanted

The article

Last updated September 18, 2017

Please send suggestions to Dianne Walker.

Back to home