IOM - UN Migration
Dec 7, 2017 · 4 min read

The acclaimed art installation UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage opened for one month at UNICEF House on 5 December.

UNPACKED showcases testimonies of refugees resettled in the US. These testimonies tell their struggles and triumphs using suitcases; a testament to their resilience and powerful journeys.

The exhibition also inspires viewers to redefine and expand the meaning of the word refugee.

On July 25th, 2006, in the middle of the night, Ahmed Badr’s house in Baghdad was bombed. He was 7 years old, the missile tore the house in half, going through three natural gas canisters which his family had emptied out two days before…

On October 28th, 2014, Mohamad Hafez’ sister left her house in Damascus and decided to find a new future for herself and her husband. In the middle of the night, they travelled through the Mediterranean on a rubber raft with 50 people. That day, when they arrived, they became refugees in Sweden…

Ahmed, an Iraqi-born writer and former refugee, and Mohamad, an architect and artist from Syria now live in the US. Together, they’ve created UNPACKED: refugee baggage.

Meanwhile in Geneva…

The Global Migration Film Festival opened around the world yesterday (5 Dec). At the Graduate Institute in Geneva there was standing room only for the screening of the acclaimed documentary Lost in Lebanon and debate with the film makers.

Addressing more than 350 attendees, Leonard Doyle, UN Migration Agency Head of Media and Communications introduced the film, announcing that this year, the Festival will present films in over 100 countries from Niger to Indonesia.

“This festival is a truly global event, sometimes taking place in venues like this, sometimes in a thousand-mile caravan driving through the desert from Agadez, Niger up to the border with Algeria, and sometimes in detention centers in Libya where migrants are suffering appallingly,” said Doyle.

Lost in Lebanon tells the stories of Sheik Abdo, Nemr, Reem and Mwafak, four Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. The documentary follows their struggle after leaving behind their friends and families, through the uncertainty that ensues when they lose their residency visas at the end of Lebanon’s open-door policy for refugees in early 2015, which rendered them unable to stay or return to their home country.

The four protagonists were not alone — by the end of 2016, 600,000 Syrians had lost their legal status in Lebanon. Despite the challenges, these characters remain committed to helping their displaced communities, whether by teaching young children at an informal school, offering counselling to fellow refugees, or sharing their artistic skills.

The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Riccardo Bocco, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, with directors Georgia and Sophia Scott, and Pindie Stephen, IOM Integration Senior Specialist.

Watch the full interview with Sophia Scott (left), co-director of Lost in Lebanon and Amanda Nero (right) Director of the Global Migration Film Festival.

Click here to find a screening near you!

“As filmmakers, we open a window for you to look through, and as a viewer you can do your own research, or lobby your own governments to change policy,” said Sophia Scott. “This film can have a great impact, but we need to partner with organizations,” she added.

These two events are part of the worldwide activities to celebrate the stories of migrants leading up to 18 December, International Migrants’ Day. Find out more:

This story was posted by Jorge Galindo. Photos from Geneva by Muse Mohammed.

IOM - UN Migration

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Official account of IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency.

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