Thursday, 26 November 2020

UN in your language

Ciné-ONU: Peace be upon you, Neighbour

Imagine being forced to live in a refugee camp, leaving behind everything you have ever known, as a result of war in your home country? Most of us cannot imagine such a life, but the United Nations gave – Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci– the rare opportunity to live among 85,000 uprooted refugees in Jordan's Za'atari camp. Their experience is documented in the film ‘Salam Neighbor’.


In light of World Refugee Day (20 June) and to highlight the UN Together Campaign for refugees, Ciné-ONU held a screening of ‘Salam Neighbor’ on 7 July 2017 at Cinema Galeries, Brussels. In the documentary, Zach and Chris plunge into the heart of one of the world's most pressing humanitarian crises. In doing so, the pair uncover inspiring stories of individuals uniting, against all odds, to rebuild their lives and those of their neighbours.

From meeting Ghoussoon, a single mother of three who has started her own hair clip business, to the 10-year-old Raouf, whose trauma of his school being bombed in Syria lurks beneath his ever-present smile, ‘Salam Neighbor’ captures the true spirit of the Syrian people, offering a new perspective on the refugee crisis.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Deborah Seward (UNRIC), with three guest speakers: Chloé Overlau (co-founder of SINGA Belgium); Manal Hayatleh (Syrian refugee living in Brussels and former UNRWA employee), and Kristof Vadino (photojournalist behind the ‘Refugee Odyssey to Europe’ series).

Panel L-R: Kristof Vadino, Chloe Overlau, Manal Hayatleh, and Deborah Seward

Manal Hayatleh described the irony of working for the UNRWA in Syria, and then becoming a refugee herself in Europe. “I had intended to reach the UK, but a smuggler brought me to Belgium and told me that this was the UK”, she told the audience. Kristof Vadino mentioned that there is a lot of false misrepresentation of the facts when it comes to refugees: “It's important to separate the false rhetoric from the truth; we [journalists] must find stories that disprove the falsehoods, but this isn’t always easy".

When asked how refugees could be better integrated into Belgian society, Chloé Overlau suggested the creation of meeting spaces and tools enabling refugees to find jobs based on their qualifications, so that they are able to work and rebuild their lives.

Chloé Overlau

The panel was asked by an audience member what we could all do now to help refugees. Responses from both the panel and audience members included: raising awareness of the situation of refugees, spreading the correct facts and information, helping refugees to learn the language of the country, and becoming friends with a refugee.

Manal Hayatleh’s response was heartfelt: “Think of refugees as humans”, which echoed the message of Salam Neighbor.

The handout from our event is available here.

For more info on ‘Salam Neighbor’ please click here.

Learn more and get involved in the Together Campaign #JoinTogether

Why not have a look at photos from the event on our Flickr?

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @CineONU #CineONU

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