Refugee Republic, an interactive online documentary mapping the lives of 58,000 people living in the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees in northern Iraq, has been awarded best communication project and the Future Award at Dutch Design Week. Created by Submarine Channel, the piece provides us with an intricate tour of the camp through hand-drawn maps, photos and videos that narrate everyday life and the individual struggles, achievements, hopes and challenges of its inhabitants.
The interactive documentary provides a constant feed of camp facts while leading visitors through four different paths of real-life stories and personal accounts, including a special section focused on the development of buildings in the camp. Like many refugee camps born as temporary shelter sites, Domiz has grown from an expanse of tents nearly 20 years ago into a makeshift town built up by its residents.
Ultimately, the documentary allows us a detailed, first-hand glimpse into the inner workings of these mini-socities and the daily lives of refugees, not only of their plight, but also as ordinary human beings who live, work, eat and play just like the rest of us. Wallpaper magazine called its tone ‘light and non-judgmental’, despite its heavy subject matter, and the competition’s judges were quoted saying: ‘In a time when nuances can easily be overlooked, it is refreshing to see refugees portrayed not as victims but as human beings, which encourages us to relate to their experiences.’
Watch Refugee Republic here.