Outdoor interactive exhibit on refugees coming to Salt Lake City

It’s designed to bring viewers face to face with the plight of the displaced

An outdoor exhibition, guided tour and virtual reality experience will bring Utahns up close with the global refugee crisis next week and what those people face as they are forced to flee their homes, sometimes on a moment’s notice.

Doctors Without Borders is bringing its “Forced From Home” experience to Salt Lake City’s Library Square Sept. 19 – 24 in a free interactive exhibit.

An unprecedented 65.6 million people have been displaced worldwide, many of them refugees and asylum seekers, who are further endangered by the denial of protections and the freedom of movement to which they are entitled, according to Doctors Without Borders.

The Forced From Home exhibition is intended to enhance public understanding of the desperate plight of refugees, migrants, and internally displaced people worldwide.

Exhibition visitors will navigate a 10,000-square-foot outdoor space designed to simulate the journey of a person forced to flee, according to the organization. Along the way, they will engage with images and materials gathered from refugee camps, rescue missions, and emergency medical projects.

Throughout the tour, visitors will hear from aid workers who provide humanitarian relief on the front lines of the refugee crisis. The Forced From Home experience also includes virtual reality and 360-degree videos that take participants to Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Tanzania, and South Sudan – areas where a large portion of displaced people currently reside.

Worldwide, only a tiny fraction of refugees are resettled, according to the organization. In 2016, the United Nations refugee agency referred 162,600 refugees for resettlement. However, that does not include asylum seekers and displaced persons who have fled violence, but are not officially considered refugees.

“At a time when global displacement is at record highs, countries should increase their support for people on the move,” said Jason Cone, executive director of Doctor’s Without Borders, USA. “Instead of helping to alleviate this global migration crisis, many of the world’s richest countries—including the U.S.—are closing their borders or sending people back to places where they face death or persecution.”

More than 22,600 people attended the Forced From Home exhibit during the first leg of the tour in the Northeast U.S. last year.

“It’s a beautiful thing to witness the way people react to this exhibit,” said Dr. Ahmed Abdalrazag, a former refugee and Doctor’s Without Borders aid worker who volunteered as a Forced From Home guide in 2016.

“I want visitors to know that refugees are artists, athletes, dancers, doctors, philosophers — human beings with ambitions and dreams as simple as finding a place to live, absent of danger and fear. I tell my story on behalf of those whose stories are untold – because I am one of the lucky ones.”