Budapest/Geneva, 13 March — As the devastating conflict in Syria enters its 9th year, a Red Cross Red Crescent partnership is launching a powerful interactive classroom tool to help European students understand and empathise with the dangers and difficult choices faced by young Syrian refugees and their families.

Brothers Across Borders” is a web-based interactive game and movie, accompanied by an in-depth teaching and discussion guide in eight languages. It was developed by the Danish Red Cross, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and 14 other National Societies that aid Syrian refugees.

In the game, students and other players become Ismael, a young Syrian refugee from Aleppo, who crosses into Turkey in search of his missing brother. The player uses Ismael’s mobile phone and his brother’s Instagram account to receive clues and follow his brother’s trail. He meets many interesting characters on his journey who offer help. As the search goes on, the player, as Ismael, is forced to make tough choices and manage their consequences, impacting the action of the movie and Ismael’s life. All the while, Ismael communicates by text with his mother, who remains with the rest of the family in an area of Aleppo under bombardment.

Klaus Nørskov, Head of Communications with the Danish Red Cross, said:

We decided to use gaming techniques that young people are familiar with to captivate and engage them in the stories of Syrian refugees. By making the game lifelike, students and other players outside of classroom settings experience the characters’ fears, uncertainties and dilemmas as if they are living through it themselves.”

The teaching materials include a range of discussion topics and exercises on the Syria conflict, regional geography, culture, family life and language and on themes such as displacement, refugees and asylum.

Simon Missiri, Director of IFRC’s Europe region said:

Young people today are exposed to heated public debate about migration, but few understand the desperation and difficult choices refugees and migrants face before, during and after taking flight.

“We hope teachers in Europe and beyond will use this innovative classroom tool to spur learning and discussion about the Syrian conflict. We also hope it will give students insight into the impact of war and displacement on ordinary people, including Syrian children they may now share a classroom with.”

The characters in the movie are played by Syrian refugees, people from Turkish communities who host them and staff of the Turkish Red Crescent.

Brothers Across Borders is funded by the European Union Regional Trust Fund as part of a larger programme, Madad, which assists displaced Syrians and host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

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Media contacts

In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, corinne.ambler@ifrc.org

In Copenhagen: Klaus Nørskov, + 45 2724 5890, klnr@rodekors.dk

In Geneva: Melissa Winkler, +41 75 419 8541, melissa.winkler@ifrc.org