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Virtual reality lets you 'feel' plight of war survivors Filed on March 12, 2019 | Last updated on March 12, 2019 at 07.00 pm
Virtual reality lets you feel plight of war survivors

(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times)

Internal displacement continues unabated around the world with 40 million people displaced in their own countries by conflict and violence.

In the age of digital technology, the UN Migration Agency has been using virtual reality (VR) to share the harrowing experiences of people who have survived wars and armed conflicts in their own countries.

At the three-day Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (Dihad) taking place until Thursday (March 14), visitors can almost "touch and feel" the plight of five war survivors from Iraq, Colombia, Nigeria, Ukraine and the Philippines.

Called 'Holding On', the digital campaign is aimed at "raising awareness of the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and celebrating their courage and resilience", Mazen Aboulhosn, coordinator at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), told Khaleej Times on Tuesday (March 12).

According to the IOM, "internal displacement continues unabated around the world with 40 million people displaced in their own countries by conflict and violence as of December 2017, accounting for 62 per cent of all conflict-induced displacement".

"The number of IDPs has nearly doubled since 2000, increasing sharply over the last five years. In addition, a further estimated 26 million people are displaced annually due to natural disasters," the IOM added.

Through its 'Holding On' campaign, the IOM is retelling the stories of the survivors by asking them to reflect on their most cherished possessions. These can be a piece of clothing, a T-shirt or any other item they carried when they left their homes.

"These mementos eventually became physical representations of their survival and a world that has since disappeared," according to the IOM.

Aboulhosn shared that one example is the story of Nigerian woman Hannatu Yusuf, who was able to escape from the violence of Boko Haram.

"When she fled, she was not able to bring anything. Eventually, she found a T-shirt that she brought to the evacuation centre. That shirt eventually came to represent more in her life than just a simple item of clothing. It was her symbol of survival," he said.

Angel Tesorero

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