Opening Address of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini Human Flow Premiere – 16 October 2017 - Beirut Souks, Lebanon

Oct 16, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the premiere of Human Flow –  a documentary produced by the world renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. ArtReview’s Magazine has named him as the most powerful artist because of his political activism, as much as his artwork.

Human Flow depicts the global journey of millions of men, women and children - including to and from Lebanon. The documentary shows that indifference to suffering and the absence of empathy can be the deadliest weapons of all.  It looks at the human aspect of the displacement crisis - what it feels like to be separated from loved ones and to lose your home and all your possessions.

We all should be reminded of the human aspect of the displacement crisis -  who can fail to remember the heartbreaking image of Alan Kurdi, the little boy from Kobani, who was found face down on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. His image embodies the horror of displacement and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. His image created an international outcry and forced global leaders to act. Unfortunately, not for long and only a few months later, governments went ahead with policies explicitly designed to keep refugees away of their borders.

This movie could not have come at a more appropriate time.  It intends to demand more action and more compassion.

And we need this action - today, more people are displaced from their homes than at any period since World War II. By the time this movie ends more than 2400 people will have been displaced, many of them children.

Lebanon has also been severely hit by displacement. Nevertheless, Lebanese host communities have shown exemplary solidarity and have generously shared their resources with Syrian refugees.  No other country in history has welcomed such a high ratio of refugees per citizens. This hospitality is however at risk. Intolerance and xenophobia are on the rise along with competitions over jobs and overstretched resources and services.

The documentary is a wakeup call to the danger that society faces when it becomes immune to peoples suffering. Dehumanization paves the way to brutality! Human Flow raises the red flag and calls on our humanity and compassions to build a better world. Our humanity is our collective identity.

Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Vincenti, the leading distribution company in Lebanon.  We are proud to be working with a private sector company that is investing in promoting humanitarian assistance and is determined to make a difference and contribute to positive change.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the movie.

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