Human Flow (2017) Script

Where's your mommy?


It's very difficult to say.

Obviously, we don't have a crystal ball to forecast, but all the elements that have driven people to flee are still there.

The conflicts are still waging.

Syria, the biggest driver of displacement, is very much volatile. Uh...

Even though right now it's slow, and over the past two days there have hardly been any arrivals, but it's also extremely cold.

Winter has v-very much set in.

With the improvement of weather, with coming of spring, it's, uh, very likely that the numbers will grow once more.

And it's difficult to forecast how many, but we should be prepared, we should be prepared to receive probably the numbers that we have seen in 2015 again.

This extraordinary event that has unfolded has also impacted Europe in many ways.

We are here, right now, on Lesvos Island.

This is the point where half a million people, most of them refugees, set foot and entered Europe.

An... An extraordinary way that people have been coming through.

And just the last year alone, over one million have come to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

And although these are movements we haven't seen in decades...

In fact, it hasn't been since the Second World War that so many had fled and come to Europe...

It's still something that we need to consider in the global context with so many millions that are actually displaced.

The situation in the camp is bad, because the borders are all closed now.

First, the Macedonian border was closed.

Then the Slovenian and Croatian and Serbian borders were closed.

So there is no way for these people to advance on their journey to try to get to Germany.

They're now trapped here.

There is about 13,000 people in this camp.

Most of them are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are fleeing from war.

Uh, I talked to people who just fled from the bombs just a few weeks ago. And they're trapped.

It's been raining since Monday.

Everybody is completely wet.

They have no way to dry their clothes.

Um, just to get a little bit of food sometimes...

It takes two hours to get one cup of soup.

So it really is a desperate situation.

So through this little gate, last year more than a million people walked their way to Europe.

This is the gate that they pass through along these railway tracks, going first through Macedonia, then to Serbia, then through Croatia.

A million people walked through this gate.

How long are you on duty today?

Europe is an interesting case, because Europe of course is the continent where the refugee convention was born.

This was one of the essential, crucial initiatives that came out of the Second World War and of the horrors of the war.

Initially, the focus was very much on Europe.

It's interesting that we have gone full circle and now the focus is again on Europe.

But 1951, of course, one of the main refugee problems, or perhaps the main problem then was refugees coming across the Iron Curtain.

So there was a strong focus on individual cases fleeing the Soviet bloc.

The European member states traditionally have had very good asylum mechanism.

This was happening in a smooth way when numbers were small.

When people started coming in large numbers, then the system collapsed.

Should be taking... Take a picture of him like this.

Sorry. Yes.

You know, Jordan historically, um, has been truly a crossroads for peoples.

Um, whether it's... it's from antiquities with caravans or today as a host for people from throughout this region.

And we have tried to play a role in keeping an open door and enabling people to find a refuge here.

Um, a-and to retain, you know, some sense of dignity, a home, until they are able to return to, um, their homes.

You know, the average stay I think of a refugee is 25 years or... or some number like that.

A-And this humanitarian side I think is very, very important.

You must always hold onto humanity.

And the more immune you are to people's suffering, I think that's very, very dangerous.

And we... You know, our region is very challenging.

We have difficulties every which direction you look at.

And I think it's critical for us to maintain this humanity, for our own... you know, the health of our own society and community and relations.

Let's go!

Get up! Get up. Get up.

Being a refugee is much more than a political status.

It is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being by depriving the person of all forms of security, the most basic requirements of a normal life...

By cruelly placing that person at the mercy sometimes of very un-or inhospitable host countries that do not want to receive this refugee.

You are forcibly robbing this human being of all aspects that would make human life not just tolerable but meaningful in many ways.

Uh-uh, uh-uh...

Uh-uh, uh-uh...

Hey, hey, hey.

Inhaler, inhaler!

Hey, you. You.


The officials came here and told them, "Look there is no way you gonna get papers to continue."

So, you're going to be deported.

"Either you go voluntarily or we arrest you."

And yesterday, it started with... police coming here and actively arresting people.

They are very afraid of being brought back.

I mean, there is a reason Why these people are here.


It's okay, it's okay. It's okay.

Okay. A little water.

Come on, man!

This is one of them.

Hold it. Hold on.


Today, we're here at the Ein al-Hilweh Camp, which is one of the most populated areas in the world.

In an area of 1 km, there is approximately 100,000 different people living, and as one knows the history of the Palestinian people, this camp has been here for more than 60 years.

Generations of children have grown up within the walls of this camp.

If children grow up without any hope, without any prospects for the future, without any sense of them being able to make something out of their lives, then they will become very vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation, including radicalization.

Young, particularly men who are...

They're teenagers, they're on their way to adulthood, many of them are traumatized by unimaginable losses at home.


They're angry, they're frustrated, they want to make a difference in their... in the lives of their communities.

They have seen their homes demolished, they have seen their families killed. Uh...

They are children who want... they themselves want to go fight because they think that this is the way they can seek revenge or get revenge for the horrors that they have lived through.

Without memory, you are nothing, memory is part of your history and history is part... Part of your geography.

Where can the Syrians go?

Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe.

So now, they are helping us, they want us to keep these refugees.

Okay, we will keep them.

They want to give us money so we have to profit out of this money, to educate the Syrians, to make them work so one day they might come back.

But now they are pouring money in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Turkey.

They don't want to hear anymore about refugees.

That's their new policy now.

It's quite a hypocritical policy, but...

I was terribly violent along time ago, I was a feudal, I was a warlord along time ago.

Lebanon is small, with...

It's a country of 18 communities, Christians and Muslims.

So we have to preserve it, and not to think about the past.

See the future.

And to forget about old, about our old hatred.

Because somewhere in our subconscious, we hate each other.

We have to, at any price, compromise.

Dialog is important in life.

Much more important than anything.

In this new world of total uncertainty, nobody knows, I don't think somebody knows where this world is going on.

Gaza could be, could be on Mars.

It's like as distant as you could be.

An hour's drive from Tel Aviv... those 1.8 million people, that, you know, are our neighbors, living in conditions, you know, of a third world country on the way to collapse, right?

Already people there, for many hours in a day, don't have electricity, right?

Uh, the quality of the water is deteriorating.

We are talking about, like, the most basic of human needs, right?

This is, like, almost as basic as it gets.

Is this fair? Is this equal? Is this just?

Just as a human being, identify that, you know, what you are looking at is injustice.

We are helping the returnees to come back with the cash grant and with some supplementary assistance for the more vulnerable people.

And in addition, we are helping the government of Afghanistan to be a refugee hosting country for the first time.

So, Afghanistan is actually hosting people who have fled for their safety also here.

So, I think the main challenge will be the security situation, because it is a country where there is ongoing conflict.

And that affects the ability of people to come back and restart their lives.

People are sometimes unable to go back to their place of, uh, origin, because it may be in war-torn area.

That means they have been displaced across the border and now they are coming back and becoming internally displaced as well.

So that's the sad part about it.

And so the people who are returning today... are in a very difficult situation.

They are probably going to have a very difficult time restarting their lives, but at least they are now citizens of their own country.

So a lot of these people can't go back to their villages, particularly the people coming from Pakistan, because they have been displaced for 30 years, in some cases 40 years.

They no longer have the connections in their villages.

They can't go back and claim the land that their grandfathers tilled.

In some cases, their villages are too insecure for them to go back, and so they end up in urban areas, displaced and disconnected, landless and dislocated.

As we have huge logistics, we of course have to design, have to decide where people can go with their stuff.

We're here now.

And you can see, we have one, two, three, four hangars.

Three hangars already have people living in them.

Hello. How are you?

I mean, one thing is to make sure that people get food.

And one thing is to make sure that people have, like, the possibility to shower. But the hardest is to actually make them feel like they are a human being, and they are not just one of, I don't know, one million who came to Germany.

So I really, on a daily basis, make people feel like they are human beings and we actually care about them.

No, no, no.

Every time We took people off the deck more people appeared. It just never stopped.

We thought it was going to be around 400, but I guess it's somewhere between 720 and 730 people.

As a group, they were the sickest people I've seen yet on this mission.

Uh, we had adults with severe malnutrition.

I had a woman who weighed 36 kilograms, she was very, very sick. Uh... there was a high, high amount of diarrhea and dysentery.

And, uh, there were people who had scurvy as well as chronic vitamin C depletion, like sailors used to see.

A lot of them came from Eritrea, a few also from Somalia and other places.

But the journey they have made through Sudan, through Khartoum up into Libya, it was really shocking to hear some of the stories, to hear what they had been through inside Libya, often kept for several months and just exploited, just, uh... giving up anything they have, any money they have to pay for this journey and to make it out to sea.

There were a total of eight pregnant women on board.

Two of whom were due any day, and one lady went into labor our first morning.

We knew that she would have complications that would not allow her to successfully deliver on the boat, so we came to the decision that we needed to medically evacuate her.

So she went onto a Coast Guard ship from Malta, straight to the hospital, went on to deliver a healthy baby girl.

If that baby had been born 24 hours earlier, the mom and the baby would have died.

I think we've entered a period in world history where movements of people across borders has accelerated.

Maybe social media plays a role in this.

Maybe the fact that transportation has become so much cheaper and more effective plays a role in this.

And also that globalization, though it has had very positive outcomes, it also has created greater inequalities.

And inevitably, people are going to move from locations that are insecure and economically nonviable to areas where there is more opportunities and more stability, and prospects of prosperity.

It's going to be a big challenge to recognize that the world is shrinking, and people from different religions, different cultures are going to have to learn to live with each other.