UNHCR helps gives global voice to refugees through Pangea Day
Thursday, 8 May 2008
GENEVA - Refugees from some of the world's biggest and most remote displacement crises will be telling their own stories this weekend through video they shot using mobile phone technology as part of the inaugural Pangea Day global film event.
Pangea Day, a non-profit project created by documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, includes a 4-hour live broadcast on Saturday, May 10, in which different films from many different cultures will be shown on television, live webcast and mobile phones to a worldwide audience. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, was invited by the organisers to help arrange video content shot by refugees in several locations around the world.
In association with Pangea Day and their project associate, Nokia, video mobile phones were distributed through UNHCR field staff to refugees in Afghanistan, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, India, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Sudan and the United States.
In addition to selections of the refugee-produced content from these locations, other films about UNHCR's work on behalf of 32.9 million uprooted people in more than 110 countries will be among those featured when communities across the globe join in what Pangea Day organisers have termed the world's "first global campfire" aimed at giving an international voice to normally invisible stories.
The project is aimed at allowing an international audience to benefit from the potential that new technology brings in mass communication, including citizen journalism that creates and disseminates first-hand stories. One of those who filmed for UNHCR was Zalmai, a former Afghan refugee who is now one of the world's foremost photojournalists. He agreed to support the project while on a recent photography assignment in his native Afghanistan.
"As a photographer, I know the power of film and the impact it can have on lives," said Zalmai, who has worked closely with UNHCR on several refugee projects. "The refugees were thrilled to have an opportunity to tell their story directly to people all over the world. And I think people worldwide will be moved when they see the compelling stories told by refugees in situations few outsiders ever get to witness. Even though many of them have lost everything, the courage, pride and hope of the refugees still shine through."