Refugees Got Talent

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 5 Jul 2016 09:15 AM
Author: Sofia Barbarani
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An estimated nine million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, with over three million fleeing to neighbouring countries and some 240,000 finding refuge in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates nearly 8,000 Syrian children and youth are living in Sulaymaniyah and most do not attend school.

The UNHCR launched the "Refugees Got Talent" competition to mark World Refugee Day and showcase the talents of young refugees of university age.

While some primary education is provided for children up to ninth grade, it is hard for young refugees to get places in secondary schools and universities mainly because their families do not have enough money to pay for fees, materials or transport

Being locked out of education leaves many young people bored in the camp and the "Refugees Got Talent" event was devised as a way to showcase their skills, ranging from singing to breakdancing.

  • Wasila Hassan, 17, is from Qamishlo, Syria. Hassan began dancing three years ago, but joining the Rojava Dance Group took some persuasion from her family. “At first, I wasn’t part of the group,” Hassan explained. “I began going to rehearsals and after a while became interested and my father encouraged me to join”.

  • Azhin Abdulaziz, 16, is from Qamishlo. He is one of seven in the competition’s breakdance group BBOYS ROJAVA. “We trained ourselves by watching TV,” Abdulaziz said.

  • Aram Khalif Dalaf, 17, is from Amuda, Syria. “I was already dancing in Syria,” Dalaf said. He hopes to win first prize in the talent competition. “We have only had about two to three hours’ rehearsal.”

  • Young audience members watch performers during the show.

  • Mixed gender troupe Rojava Dance Group, perform on stage.

  • Mahir Khalil Hasan, a 25-year-old competition finalist from Qamishli, plays the Oud on stage.

  • Presenter Neshan der Haroutiounian takes a selfie on stage that gets the audience in the background as well.

  • Mizzgin Rumi, a 19-year-old from Kobane, Syria, arrived in Iraqi-Kurdistan a year and half ago after attacks from the Islamic State. One of his brothers is currently fighting with the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), the Syrian Kurds’ force in northern Syria. Rumi is a singer and a saz (drum) player.

  • Presenter Neshan der Haroutiounian sits down for dramatic pause as he announces the winner of the UNHCR’s Refugees Got Talent competition.

  • Mizzgin Rumi, from Kobane, takes a bow as he is named winner of Refugees Got Talent.

    All photos courtesy of Andrea Di Cenzo

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