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Sanctuary: Film Review by Ibrahim Badawi

As part of Swansea City of Sanctuary’s ten-year celebrations, the film Sanctuary was shown in the Taliesin Theatre at Swansea University. The film included scenes from Swansea and interviews with refugees, asylum seekers, volunteers, and inspirational figures who have contributed to a boom in work with refugees over the past ten years.

The film first highlighted the lack of opportunities available for refugees, the negative publicity in the media, the projects to deport refugees and the impact this has on asylum seekers. Sanctuary sheds light on examples of refugee stories and the problems they faced in their countries, which prompted them to forcibly leave, such as the victims of the military coups in Chile, and the problem of the Kurdish minority among the victims of Saddam Hussein, who decided to seek refuge in other countries.

It also gave examples of the suffering of the Congolese people under military rule, as well as violence against women in Pakistan, and the civil war in Sri Lanka – all of which deprive people their simple rights under continuous violence. Sanctuary showed the serious effects these examples had on civilians, who left their families in search of safety and refuge.

The film referred to the new strategy that the government intends to adopt to send refugees out of the United Kingdom and questioned the purpose behind this.

One of the most important messages conveyed by the film, that focused on the human dimension, was to make the city a welcoming place for refugees, who were described as human beings looking to participate, learn, and contribute constructively to building society.

The film emphasized the importance of refugees who offer their time to teach languages and to volunteer, transforming them from people who receive aid into people who make a difference and serve the community.

Some important goals have been revealed in the film, such as combating the feeling of isolation and loneliness, while helping individuals find friends, jobs and education. One of the practical ways to achieve this was the meeting at St. James Church in Uplands, to share food, play and talk, which is a wonderful initiative.

β€œAll you want to do is a smiley face,” one of the film’s interviewers expressed the simplicity of working with refugees, despite the problems they may encounter.

Detention, language barriers, volunteer opportunities, and refugee assistance were among the main topics of discussion for the audience, who all provided a different and indescribable feeling of comfort, preferring to give their time to support refugees and asylum seekers, to all kinds of pleasures in the material world.

The film concluded with wonderful scenes of the charming city of Swansea, with its natural surroundings. The good people of Swansea remain at the heart, those who help people to be safe not for personal benefit, but to bring a posi-tive change for both refugees and the community.

In celebrating over a decade of Swansea becoming a City of Sanctuary, Fusion decided to find out more about the lives of people dispersed to Swansea, why they come and the community they find when they arrive. The 30-minute special, Sanctuary, was premiered at the Taliesin on Thursday 7th October, but is now available to watch online via YouTube with Welsh subtitles and English subtitles.