‚Exodus: Our Journey to Europe‘ revealed the terrifying reality of being a refugee
Posted by hkarner - 17. Juli 2016
Isra’a and her family fled Aleppo
As attitudes to immigration in the UK become dangerously febrile, so too will the many refugees coming to our shores feel the impact of an increasing hostility.
Feeling like a plea for tolerance, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (BBC Two) shared what the experience of displacement was like for some of the million-plus people, mostly refugees from war-torn Syria, who smuggled themselves into Europe last year.
The idea was simple. Ask a handful of migrants to record on camera phones the things and places no camera crew could ever get to: the dealings with people smugglers, the terrifying sea voyages, the secret scaling of border fences, the thousand-mile treks to freedom, or, at least, comparative safety.
Refugees sleeping in Lesbos port
The result was an astonishingly intimate, and at times palpably scary, portrait of desperation. In the Turkish port of Izmir we met 11-year-old Isra’a, 900 km from her bombed-out home in Aleppo, selling cigarettes illegally on the street to raise the €12,000 it would cost to get her family to Greece.
We saw how they were prey to everyone from gun-toting people smugglers to the parasites selling rubber rings, fake life jackets, old inner tubes – anything to keep the terror of a sea voyage in an unstable dinghy at bay. We saw a father’s very visible fear that his children might end up like the little Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, whose washed up body he’d seen, as we had, on the news. We heard his heartbreaking arguments with a wife who considered their imagined new life of freedom worth the risk of drowning.
None of this was easy viewing. But it was often surprising. Isra’a and her family lived not in a camp but an apartment in Izmir. Smart phones were not luxuries but essential tools for route finding, weather forecasting, organising, meeting. Hassan, a 27 year-old teacher from Damascus, dispelled the notion that refugees were all destitute. Many had saved up, or sold properties to make the journey.
Exodus: Our Journey to Europe – Hassan
Via Hassan’s camera-phone we witnessed his traumatic sea journey on a tiny dinghy packed with 65 terrified souls, taking on so much water most had to jump overboard and cling to the sides praying for rescue. The danger, and their terror, was there for us to see: tangible, inescapable. Truly, it was the human face of migrant misery.
This film, the first of three showing over consecutive nights, was undoubtedly powerful, but it could not offer easy answers to tough questions. Will it have changed minds already set against allowing more of the desperate and dispossessed to a place of greater safety? Probably not.
have a look:
Repeated on BBC 2 on Monday-Tuesday and Wedenesday 18-20 july