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Documentaries about the refugee crisis WILL help you understand their struggle.

The life of a refugee is one that can’t be understood unless their realities have been lived first hand. War, mass genocide, political hostility, oppression, religion. These are only some of the reasons why people become refugees. Here are some further reasons why.

Although I will never experience the trauma and hardships, I have found films and documentaries as a good tool to understand. Documentaries and films convey the plight of immigrants and refugees who have fled their countries due to oppressive regimes. Documenting the real life stories of these individuals have bought countless tears to my eyes. The continuing hostility towards immigrants and refugees all around the world makes it’s vital for us to educate ourselves. From having to exile their country, making the journey to their asylum and then experiencing racism and unwelcome behaviour in the country of refugee.

Here are some refugee documentaries I have found useful to watch!

For Sama

For Sama is a film which documents the life of a powerful woman called Waad al-Kateab, through the backdrop of the war torn city of Allepo, Syria. Waad films across five years of her life, as she falls in love, gets married, has a baby, and navigates her family through the constant airstrikes and dying civilians around her. The film focuses on the beginning life of a refugee and the reasons why refugees leave their homes.

One of the significant parts of the film is when Waad al-Kateab revisits her home after it being bombed by airstrikes. She looks at her home in horror. Refugees don’t leave their homes willingly!

For more information about the film and how you can watch. Click here.

Exodus: Our Journey to Europe

This three part documentary follows a groups of refugees on their journeys through Europe in search of a better life. The documentary is partly filmed by the BBC crew and partly by the refugees themselves through their phones. One of the refugees on board this journey was Hassan Akkad, who is now working as a hospital cleaner at Whipps Cross Hospital, London during the corona-virus lockdown.  “Ladies and gentlemen, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe was my yesterday but it is somebody else’s today and tomorrow.  Since we have made this documentary, over 10,000 people have died trying to seek refuge in Europe.”- Hassan Akkad


Travelling by sea is often the only way refugees can migrate through countries safely. But their desperation to escape the oppression they’re fleeing can lead to dire situations and difficult lengths. Lifeboat is about how a group of German volunteers, from a non-profit organisation, rescue migrants from sinking rafts drifting away from Libya on the Mediterranean sea. The jostle to safety but more importantly to live a better life is the only motivation.

For full information about the film and how to watch. Click here.

Salam Neighbour

At the Za’atari Camp in Jordan, which is still home to more than 70,000 refugees, two American filmmakers reveal the realities of life in a refugee camp. The film gives us a closer understanding of what life is like in an refugee camp. The film aims to defy the stereotypes of refugees by giving a glimpse into the hopes and dreams of many Syrian refugees living in the camp.

For full information about the film and how to watch the film. Click here.

Frontline Doctors: A Winter Migrant Crisis

Doctors, aid workers and identical twin brothers, Dr Chris and Xand van Tulleken, travel through Europe to witness the conditions of refugees for themselves. Both brothers experience the two sides of the voyage migrants take to seek asylum. The claustrophobic shanty town settlements of the Calais ‘jungle’ to the clamour to safety on small dinghies and lifeboats. This documentary gives a medical perspective to the refugee crisis.

Human Flow

A documentary film which is grounded in human stories from Afghanistan, France, Greece, Germany and Iraq during the height of the refugee crisis. Filmmaker Ai Weiwei explores the refugee crisis on human terms through taking the viewer under the surface of the human impact in mass displacement.

For more information about Human Flow. Click here.


Imagine having to leave your home right now. No choices. No questions. The fear of being persecuted or the sound of bombs dropped onto your home force you to make unknown journey. This is exactly what filmmaker Daniel Mulloy has shown in the short film Home. The film captures the experiences of modern day refugees but in reverse. A British family have to leave their home under seemingly ordinary circumstances but soon find themselves living as refugees.

It reminded me of the 2016 Save the Children advert on television.

Here is the trailer for the short film.

Although Refugee Day 2020 has passed, the refugee crisis remains an issue and should not be limited to a day of remembrance. As we know find ourselves in a global crisis of Covid-19 it could be these refugees who are the key workers helping us through this difficult time.

It’s important to remember their plight still remains and there are a number of ways you can help. Here are some organisations:


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