Faisal Attrache

“No matter how bad the situation gets, people will always need someone to cut their hair.” Filmmaker Faisal Attrache says that is why he chose barbers as central figures of his documentary film 'Walk-Ins Welcome: Stories of Syrian Refugee Barbers'.

The film is set in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where over 120,000 of the estimated two million Syrians displaced by the civil war are now living. It's no accident that Attrache tackled this subject. He was born in As-Suwayda', Syria and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was a young child.

After earning university degrees in Environmental Studies and International Development, he was drawn to film and photography. He began to explore filmmaking and decided that it was the best outlet for his creative and emotional energy. Above all, he wanted to do what he could to improve the lives of people in Syria and the Middle East.

Attrache spent a year in Syria studying Arabic while he made his first short film in his hometown of As-Suwayda'. Faisal is a third-year MFA Film and Television Production candidate at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles.

UN: Two million refugees have fled Syria

03-09-13

Over two million refugees have fled Syria’s ongoing civil war, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday.

It added that the number of refugees had grown tenfold over the past 12 months resulting in nearly 10 percent of the country’s population living as refugees outside Syria.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, said, "What is appalling is that the first million fled Syria in two years. The second million fled Syria in six months."

He referred to Syria as "the great tragedy of this century - a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history."

More than 97 percent of Syrian refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp is home to the largest numbers of civilians feeling the war that broke out in March 2011. [Check our speaker Faisal Attrache’s documentary project in Zaatari camp].

Living conditions in refugee camps, where over 50 percent of the population is below 18 years of age, are worsening as the humanitarian crisis within the country escalates.

Additionally, the number of internally displaced people within Syria has reached over 4.2 million, according to the UNHCR.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing for a military intervention in Syria against President Bashar al Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb last month. Assad however has rejected these allegations and warned against a possible international intervention in the coming days. 

Sources: UNHCR, ReutersBBC

Photo: Syrian refugee child in Qaa, Lebanon by Freedom House. 

Stories of 'Normal Life' in Tragic Times

15-08-13

Most men don’t think twice when shaving. It’s part of their daily routine: wash the face, lather the soap and go. But in some places, these simple acts are the only remnants of normal life.

Like at the Zaatari refugee camp, where over 120,000 refugees who've fled the Syrian civil war are now living. Local barbers have set up makeshift shops with mirrors and a chair. There, they wield their clippers and razors, while every day dozens of customers share their life stories as they get a trim or a shave. This is the setting for Walk-Ins Welcome: Stories of Syrian Refugee Barbers, filmmaker Faisal Attrache's documentary film and humanitarian project.

The conversations Attrache filmed illustrate the lives of people displaced by the crisis, but they also reflect on the Syrian conflict as a whole. Attrache says his aim was to restore a human face to the conflict, something that was lost while the fighting dragged on for the past two years.

(Photo: The main street in Zaatari refugee camp. Credit: www.refugeebarbers.com)