Refugee camp exhibition brings realities of being a refugee to DC

CCTV News

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A section of the National Mall in Washington, DC was temporarily transformed into a refugee camp. The interactive exhibit was set up by Doctors Without Borders, in an effort to show visitors first-hand the challenges that millions of refugees around the world experience.

CCTV America’s Andrea Arenas has more. Follow Andrea Arenas on Twitter @AndreArenas1

Refugee camp exhibition in DC reflects real refugee life

Refugee camp exhibition in DC reflects real refugee life

A section of the National Mall in Washington, DC was temporarily transformed into a refugee camp. The interactive exhibit was set up by Doctors Without Borders, in an effort to show visitors first-hand the challenges that millions of refugees around the world experience. CCTV America’s Andrea Arenas has more.

The unique exhibit, called “Forced From Home,” offers visitors the chance to see the world from the eyes of the 65 million people who are currently displaced.

For one hour, visitors are given a different identity and go through the process of being “forced from home” due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.

“The refugee question used to be a forgotten question, something really far away from us. But now we are all concerned, we have to all be aware about what is going on. We have to be affected by it,” Sarah Khenati, a psychologist from Doctors Without Borders, said.

Throughout the tour, stories of survival are told by Doctors Without Borders personnel who have worked with refugees in perilous situations.

As visitors listen, they hop on a boat to cross the Mediterranean sea, paralleling the journey that so many migrants have taken.

In 2016 alone, the U.S. has admitted 85,000 refugees–over 1,200 of which are from Syria.

The issue of allowing in refugees has been contentious, especially in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump said immigrants from countries where terrorism is a problem could endanger the U.S., even suggesting earlier in the campaign a temporary ban on all Muslims attempting to enter the country.

Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton supports significant increases in the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States.

“It’s important to see refugees and asylum seekers as individuals that are fleeing something and moving- especially to the United States for better opportunities, rather than people who are coming to subvert U.S. democracy or the political system,” visitor Riley O’Hara said.

“We are talking about taking them, we haven’t done it yet. You know, you talk to the common man on the street and he says, oh let’s put them through a vetting process, well, they are already through a vetting process, we don’t let criminals in,” visitor Diane Smith said.

The message of the exhibit is simple.

“Those people are just like you and me. What happened to them could happen to us anytime,” Khenati said.

The “Forced From Home” exhibit is making its way through five U.S. cities.