80 Years Apart, Two Child Refugees Have Strikingly Similar Stories

"I am one of the lucky ones."

"Never again" invoked the international community's collective shame and regret for turning Jews away as they fled the Nazis' systematic eradication of their people, and for sitting on their hands as mass genocide took place. But as the Syrian civil war rages on and the humanitarian crisis continues to deteriorate, there's a sinking feeling that we've have failed to learn our lesson. 

A recent video by UNICEF, however, is a reminder of the striking parallels between the human toll of the Holocaust and that of the Syrian civil war. The video features two refugees, a young Syrian boy, Ahmed, and Harry, an 80-year-old man who escaped Nazi Germany as a child. Despite being generations apart, Ahmed and Harry take turns telling remarkably similar tales of their experiences as child refugees: the destruction of their schools and homes, their treacherous journeys to safety, the deaths of their family members. Both told of how they eventually found refuge, Ahmed in Sweden with his family, and Harry in the U.K. 

At the end, they both say, "I am alive. I am one of the lucky ones."

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Refugees from seven predominantly-Muslim countries who were bound for the United States were left in a state of shock after hearing that President Trump's executive orders barred them from entering the country. Most recently, a federal judge blocked the ban, and immigration officials, attorneys, and airlines have been scrambling to get them back onto planes into the U.S. 

Countering a policy rooted in xenophobia requires participation from the general public, and Carol Stern, the CEO of UNICEF, told ATTN: the video's intention was to shift people's perception on refugees. "I want Americans to stop seeing these kids as migrants or refugees," she said. "I just want them to see them as children."

Cover image via Shutterstock / Janossy Gergely

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