Read, Debate: Engage.

Beyond Isolation: A Bird

June 21, 2022
topics: Refugees and Asylum
by: Frank Odenthal, Noaz Deshe
located in: Syria, Sweden, Greece
tags: Denmark, displacement, Greece, human rights, refugee crisis, Sweden, Syria

Since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, 12.3 million Syrian men and women were forced to flee, according to UNOCHA, with 6.7 million currently internally displaced across the country. 4.1 million people are currently trapped in the non-government-controlled northwest of Syria, bordering Turkey.

Many of these people rely on humanitarian aid to survive. Around 80 percent of those in need are women and children. In 2021 alone, critical aid from the UN and partners crossed the border into northwest Syria, helping and protecting 2.4 million people each month.

Fleeing Syria is complicated and dangerous. In 2020, Turkey was the country that hosted the highest number of Syrian refugees, amounting to 3.7 million refugees. Tensions at the Turkey-EU border remain high, as shown by reports of European border guards (Frontex) illegally blocking refugees' attempts to cross the Aegean sea towards Greece, pushing them back to Turkey.

In March 2021, Denmark became the first European country to send back Syrian refugees, claiming that Damascus, and the countryside near Damascus, are safe to return to - notwithstanding the ample evidence that the risk of persecution remains pervasive, as Human Rights Watch reports.

Besides Germany, Sweden is one of the main destinations for many Syrian refugees. As of 2021, 210,000 people residing in Sweden were born in Syria, according to Statistics Sweden. By 2019, 67 percent of male, and 51 percent of female Syrian refugees found work in Sweden.

A Bird

In 2016, when cinematographer and director Noaz Deshe was volunteering in boats on the Mediterranean and later in refugee camps across Greece, he met Adam Yunis in a refugee housing in Greece living with four other men in a room, all waiting for their asylum decisions.

Fluent in English, Adam was a Red Cross volunteer since he could translate everyone’s emergency situations to the staff at Idomeni, an unofficial camp that occurred on the Macedonian border with Greece. Very much like Calais, it was eventually broken apart by the Greek military, moments before it could become a permanent village for thousands of people.

Adam escaped the Syrian war, but he never wanted to talk directly about his escape, his torture by militants, or the family he left behind; instead, he wanted to become a poet.

"We spoke about making a short film on his frustrations with being lost in the Swedish integration system and the extreme isolation he felt. He would call and describe his language classes as 'pure comedy,'" remembers Noaz. 

"At the time, Adam's only local friend was Janne, a 60-year-old Swedish canoe instructor in an adjacent lake. It seemed like a fitting opportunity to catch and capture their surreal, unlikely friendship and look at Adam's chances in a small, almost empty village in the middle of Sweden." 

The result was a short film entitled "The Bird," based on the title of a poem by Adam. 

After the filming, director Noaz again met with Adam, who was still living in the small Swedish town called Rye, about two hours away from Mamoe. He remembers: "I caught up with Adam, now two years into his Swedish experience. [He was] angry, frustrated and missing Greece."

The film "The Bird" was produced by FairPlanet and had its world premiere on fairplanet.org on the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20.06.2022.

Image by  European Parliament /​Flickr.

Article written by:
Odenthal Frank_Autorenfoto
Frank Odenthal
Author
.
noaz deshe
Noaz Deshe
Author
Syria Sweden Greece
.
.