This traveling exhibit is helping to raise awareness of what refugees go through.
A temporary exhibit staged in front of the Washington monument in D.C. gives visitors a taste of what life as a refugee is like. It’s an interactive, immersive exhibit titled “Forced From Home” that simulates the conditions that refugees around the world face everyday as they flee their home.
The exhibit has been put on by the highly-respected organization, Doctors Without Borders, and is active until October 9. Its opening came just one day after the UN Human Rights Council decided to put together a high-level panel to investigate the abuses occurring in Syria. The panel will speak at their next session and will feature witness testimonies.
“Forced From Home” is free for everyone and aims to raise public awareness about what refugees endure by using 360° videos and sharing the personal stories of some real refugees. Visitors walk around the site and assume the role of a refugee from Afghanistan, Burundi, Honduras, Syria or South Sudan. They go through a series of challenges and face obstacles such as traveling to safety in harsh conditions, medical and housing needs, and the process of obtaining legal documentation. There are 65 million people that are currently fleeing their home and country because they were forced or displaced by war.
The experience starts with a situation that nearly every refugee faces before fleeing their home: picking a few items to carry with them on their dangerous journey. They have only seconds to choose five items, all of which wind up being necessities like food, water, passports, and clothes rather than items used for hobbies or fun. The majority of expensive or sentimental items must be left behind.
No matter what they bring, the refugees/visitors have their belongings taken from them one-by-one as they enter different camps and countries. These places take items as payment because most refugees have no money to spare to be a part of the camp. At the camps, they endure disease, starvation, dehydration, and extreme weather, among other conditions.
The UN’s new panel will focus on Syria’s human rights violations and hold them accountable for their actions and lack of protection for their citizens. Among the violations are arbitrary detention, secret imprisonment and abduction of citizens.
“Forced From Home” will visit Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia next.
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