Born In Syria To Unsafe Passage: 5 Must-Watch Refugee Documentaries

Refugee Documentaries
Refugee documentaries serve well to remind us of our privilege and look at a side of life that we have been fortunate enough to not witness.

With shelters so comfortably over our heads and blankets keeping us warm, we forget that there exist people who have it differently than us.

Here’s a list of refugee documentaries, some well-known and some lesser-known, for exploring.

5 Refugee Documentaries For Watching

Unsafe Passage

Unsafe Passage directed by Ed Ou and produced by The Outlaw Ocean Project is an Emmy Award winner in the category of Outstanding Crime and Justice Coverage. In the documentary, a ship tries to rescue refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. As the title of the movie suggests the passage is not safe for the refugees. The waters are constantly patrolled by the Libyan Coast Guards and fleeing becomes a nigh impossible task. The documentary captures some of the refugees opening up. They have a bleak future ahead of them as not all nations will be welcoming enough to take in refugees. They might just be deported to their home country.

ISIS In Afghanistan

This is a Frontline documentary by the Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi. The man had previously covered the war between American coalition forces and the Taliban for more than a decade. This ISIS documentary shows how the teachers were teaching children how to kill in the name of jihad. This 2015 documentary offers the uncomfortable truth of the volatility that refugees face while fleeing.

Refugee Documentaries

Still from ISIS In Afghanistan (2015)

Myanmar’s Killing Fields

Some parts of Myanmar’s Killing Fields have been shot in secret as it contains eyewitness accounts of the treatment meted out to the Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar Military. Both the United States and the United Nations have described what has been going on in the documentary as ‘ethnic cleansing’. This documentary was released in 2018 and therefore is not very old.

Captains of Za’atari

Home to more than 80,000 refugees this is the largest refugee camp in the world located in Jordan. The director of the documentary Ali El Arabi meets two refugees at the camp who dream of playing professional soccer one day.  The documentary beautifully showcases how when refugees are given the same opportunities as non-refugees, they can make the best of the opportunities offered to them.

Born In Syria

Directed by Bernan Zin, this Netflix documentary captures the life of refugee children who are facing the repercussions of war. The film opens with a dingy location with old and young crying faces marked with exhaustion and fear. It follows the lives of seven refugee children. It is 13-year-old Marwan’s words in this documentary that stays with you: “I thought crossing the sea would be the worst, but having nowhere to go is worse.”

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