About 600 refugee children, most of them Syrian or Palestinian, recently joined young Lebanese at a Beirut cinema and watched a film about their personal history.
"Beirut Parc" describes their lives and how football brings them all together for a short while. Based on the project "Soccer Camp Libanon 2016" initiated by the Goethe-Institute in Lebanon, DW produced a two-part series which will be broadcast in four languages on December 26 and January 3 and is already available online on demand.
Most of the children had never been to a cinema. And many of them had never set foot on a real football field before the film production. In Lebanon, 20 percent of the current population are refugees.
DW journalists Matthias Frickel and Henning Hesse accompanied Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian children who took part in the soccer camp and gained insight into the daily lives of the young refugees. "Football is our only hope because here there are no jobs, nothing," said 16-year-old Palestinian Adam. Three generations of his family have spent their lives in the refugee camp in Shatila in Beirut. "When we play football, we forget about the crisis," said 15-year-old Rim from Syria, who now lives in the Bekaa-Valley in a hut built by her father.
The documentary also illustrates the rising tension between Lebanese locals and foreign refugees. "The Lebanese only want our money," a Syrian father complained. A Lebanese man said Beirut was too small to accommodate so many refugees. "The big, rich countries must help us."
Lebanon is one of the hotspots of the refugee movement. Syrian and Iraqi refugees have been living alongside Lebanese and Palestinians in cramped conditions for years. For children and young people football is an escape from the difficulties of daily life.
The "Soccer Camp Libanon 2016" initiative was supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and local partners such as the David Nakhid Football Academy. The camp organizers invited refugee children between six and 16 years to play football in Beirut, Tripoli, Saidar and Bekaa for one week each.
DW will broadcast "Beirut Parc" in English, German, Arabic and Spanish as part of its "Kick off!" football program.