The Other Side of the Refugee Crisis

The past year has been a year full of ups and downs, for Europe and for the world. With regret I am saying that the world has seen considerably more downs in recent years, but this started being important worldwide when Europe was hit. We’ve seen the refugee crisis, we’ve seen a growth in support of far-right political movements and we’ve seen terror. As always, all stories have two sides, and everyone is entitled to choose what side they prefer (or let themselves think they prefer). But no matter what issue we are talking about, we are all human – and that’s what should be on our priority list.

In the last year, Germany alone took in more than 1 million refugees, mostly from Syria. While the topic of refugees is still hot and controversial, individuals and organisations from around Europe (and the US) have started taking positive initiatives to humanize the refugee struggle and break down cultural barriers. Such is the example of Amnesty International which started the project ‘Look Beyond Borders’ in order to bond refugees with Europeans.

The experiment is based on a theory that four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact increases intimacy. Amnesty International Poland and Polish ad agency DDB&Tribal applied the theory, developed by psychologist Arthur Aron in 1997, to the refugee crisis, sitting refugees from Syria and Somalia opposite people from Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK, with overwhelmingly positive results. The video was shot in Berlin – the perfect European place to highlight diversity and overcoming divisions – and saw ordinary Europeans meeting refugees for the first time.

Check out the results below and ‘Give yourself a chance to talk and look at the other person’ before letting yourself being told what to believe or how to act.

Luckily, some people reached the shores safely. What they left behind is everyday terror and conflict and chaos, in pursuance of a better life. Others, even if they managed to escape the darkness, they arrived to see the light too soon. This is for all those who didn’t make it and weren’t welcomed by the Europeans as they could have.


We wanted to go with the flow

But we were stopped ashore.

In search of the perfect world,

We’ve lost ourselves.


We dreamed or going far away –

We got there.

Too fast

And too soon.


Blinded by hatered and sadness,

Our dreams were shattered.

Before time,

Before everything else.


Ioana-Alexandra Tache

Featured image credits go to CBN Documentaries, via


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