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Welcome to Refugeestan

Welcome to Refugeestan

A Burundian man steps off a bus in Tanzania and waits to be processed at a refugee camp. Two of his brothers are dead, and his parents have disappeared. He is about to become one of the 17 million people the same number of people as the population of Holland around the world who are refugees.

WELCOME TO REFUGEESTAN imagines refugees in camps as residents of their own country: a country with no freedom of movement, where working is illegal, and dehumanizing security checks are frequent, all ruled by a distant, colonial-style bureaucracy. The average length of stay in this 'country'? 17 years.

The film takes us into camps including the world's largest at Dadaab, Kenya (population: 350,000) and the brand-new Azraq camp in Jordan, where evenly spaced identical white buildings stretch out in a grid under the hot desert sun, a place so dispiriting and soulless many refugees refuse to live there.

WELCOME TO REFUGEESTAN also takes us inside the troubled UNHCR, where well-meaning humanitarians struggle to improve lives within a system filled with contradiction and absurdity. And it reveals how the world's refugees are also becoming an important market as camps become places for companies to test out new technologies ranging from cardless ATMs to solar-powered lights, and retail outlets cater to a captive population prevented by barbed wire from shopping elsewhere.

In an era in which refugees both dominate headlines and are deeply misunderstood, REFUGEESTAN is an essential exploration of both the refugee experience and the failures of a system that keeps people trapped and stateless for decades at a time.

"UN refugee agency UNHCR unveiled new figures showing a record 65.3 million people were registered as displaced due to conflict or persecution…Welcome to Refugeestan [looks] at life in UNHCR camps around the world which are home to some 16 million people." —ScreenDaily

"This film explores the land of camps, from Kenya, to Tanzania, Jordan, and the Greece/Macedonia border, as well as at the UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva. It reveals an immense system that combines humanitarian concerns with the management of undesirables who rich countries want to keep out, whatever the cost." —United Nations Film Festival

"Successfully convey[s] the otherwise alien and alienating experience of ‘becoming a citizen in the land of camps’ through a unique role-playing framework." —Alexander Dawson, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, in the journal African Studies Review

"Issuing a powerful wake-up call about a global crisis situation, this film is recommended." —Video Librarian


Main credits

Poiret, Anne (film director)
Poiret, Anne (screenwriter)
Winocour, Patrick (film producer)
Guigon, Juliette (film producer)

Other credits

Editing: Francʹoise Bernard; cinematography: Thibault Delavigne; original music: Olivier Adelen.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Conflict Resolution
Current Affairs
Human Interest
Human Rights
Political Theory
Social Movements


refugee; africa; anne poiret; human rights; ; "Refugeestan"; Icarus Films