This Is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees

Mani Yassir Benchelah

Lebanon, Switzerland, United Kingdom 2015, 56 min.


Spoken language: Arabic

Subtitles: English

Festival year: 2016

Intimate, harrowing portrait of children who have fled the violence of the civil war in Syria and now live in refugee camps in neighbouring Lebanon: in the Bekav Valley, close to border town Arsal, and in Shatila, Beirut. Emmy Award winner Mani Yassir Benchelah zoomed in on the children’s daily lives during one year, giving them the opportunity to express, in their own words, how they cope with loss, hardship and broken dreams.


While her little brother is fetching water, Aya confesses how she was pressured by a soldier to give details about her father. Little, stuttering Nouredine, who lived in Homs during the siege, is worried about Assad’s soldiers chasing him everywhere. Thirteen-year-old Layim is vindictive yet eager to help people, for example by handing out food supplies.

Whereas most children hope to one day return home, disabled Fatima seems quite happy after being admitted into Switzerland, where she no longer feels underestimated. Mustafa is keen to study at university, but has to take on a job to feed his family. A microcosmic portrait showing the high toll that the ongoing civil war takes on millions of Syrian refugees, half of whom are children.

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Talkshows & debates

This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees: Q&A with Sabine Copinga

Saturday, March 19, 2016 - 12:15

Petra Stienen will do a Q&A with Sabine Copinga (Save the Children)

This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees: Q&A with Ken Miller and Chris de Bode

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 19:15

Marjanne de Haan will do a Q&A with Ken Miller (War Child) and Chris de Bode (photographer)