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Documentary shows 'universal refugee struggle' at Zaatari camp

By Dana Al Emam - Dec 09,2015 - Last updated at Dec 09,2015

Syrian refugee Maamoun Wadi fixes mobile phones at his shop at the Zaatari camp in this still from the documentary 'District Zero' (Photo courtesy of Oxfam)

AMMAN — At a simple mobile phone repair shop at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Maamoun Wadi helps his fellow Syrian refugees preserve their memories of home and their hopes for a better future.

By restoring photos and videos of happier times captured with their smartphones back in Syria, Wadi, a father of five who fled from Daraa to the Kingdom in 2013, is able to preserve the only link his compatriots still have to their hometowns, particularly after he introduced a coloured photo printer to the camp for the first time. 

Not until then were his clients able to transform images on their phones' memory chips into photographs of their family members with which to decorate the walls of their trailers.

Wadi's struggle for survival as one of some 80,000 refugees at Zaatari camp and 59.5 million refugees and displaced individuals worldwide is depicted in the "District Zero" documentary, screened Tuesday evening as part of the sixth Karama Human Rights Film Festival, which concludes its main activities on Thursday. 

"It is a film that depicts up to 90 per cent of our everyday lives at Zaatari," Wadi said.

Another main character in the documentary, Karim Jasir, cited smartphones as the only means for refugees to remain in touch with their family members in Syria and those who have fled to other countries.     

The 2015 production follows the daily routines and experiences of Syrian refugees, which the film’s co-director, Pablo Tosco, sees as similar to the experiences of refugees in all camps regardless of the country.

He stressed the importance of the film in highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees to the international community.


Produced by Oxfam and the humanitarian aid department of the European Commission, and filmed over a period of four months, the documentary seeks to enhance awareness of the vitally important role humanitarian aid plays in the lives of tens of millions of people.

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