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Part of Washington DC's National Mall transforms into a refugee camp

Reporter: Andrea Arenas 丨 CCTV.com

10-08-2016 14:25 BJT

There's been an unusual sight in Washington DC this week, as a section of its National Mall temporarily transforms into a refugee camp.

It's part of an interactive exhibition set up by Doctors Without Borders, where visitors can see first-hand the challenges facing millions of refugees around the world.

This unique exhibit, called "Forced From Home," offers visitors the chance to see the world from the eyes of the 65 million people who are currently displaced.

For one hour, visitors are given a different identity and go through the process of being "forced from home" due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.

"The refugee question used to be a forgotten question, something really far away from us. But now we are all concerned, we have to all be aware about what is going on. We have to be affected by it," said Sarah Khenati, psychologist of Doctors Without Borders.

Throughout the tour, stories of survival are told by Doctors Without Borders personnel who have worked with refugees in perilous situations.

As visitors listen, they hop on a boat to cross the Mediterranean sea, paralleling the journey so many migrants have taken.

So far in 2016, the US has admitted 85,000 refugees, over 12,00 of them from Syria.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump says immigrants from countries where terrorism is a problem could endanger the U.S. - even suggesting earlier in the campaign a temporary ban on all Muslims attempting to enter the country.   

Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton supports significant increases in the number of Syrian refugees allowed in.

"It's important to see refugees and asylum seekers as individuals that are fleeing something and moving- especially to the United States for better opportunities- rather than people who are coming to subvert US democracy or the political system," said Riley O'Hara, visitor.

"We are talking about taking them, we haven't done it yet. You know, you talk to the common man on the street and he says, oh let's put them through a vetting process. Well, they are already through a vetting process, we don't let criminals in," said Daine Smith, visitor. 

A United Nations report says nearly half of all refugees are children.The message of the exhibit is simple.

"Those people are just like you and me. What happened to them could happen to us anytime," said Sarah Khenati.

The "Forced From Home" exhibit is making its way through five US cities. It will next head to Boston, Massachusetts, to spread this refugee experience.

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