Wood carrier. Photo by Doreen Hasan   Bread and Iron is a film about Syrian workers in Lebanon. Unable to return home due to the war, many of them are stuck on Lebanese construction sites, building Beirut’s skyline at the whim of employers exploit …

Wood carrier. Photo by Doreen Hasan

Wood carrier. Photo by Doreen Hasan

 

Bread and Iron is a film about Syrian workers in Lebanon. Unable to return home due to the war, many of them are stuck on Lebanese construction sites, building Beirut’s skyline at the whim of employers exploiting their situation.

The film, which won a number of awards, was made by Dareen Hasan, a Syrian film maker based in The Netherlands.

It depicts the daily lives of these workers in an environment that views them with suspicion and hostility. In a series of conversations, young and old labourers talk about alienation, hardship, and their dreams for the future. Their testimonies point at a stark reality that goes largely ignored, especially now that their home country is on fire.

The film starts with a Syrian worker who refuses to show his face. He talks about his situation and his dream of having a house and how it is now impossible to even think about it.

Other workers tell their stories of brutal hardship, and of the constant need to cut and work iron in order to buy their bread.

Dareen says: “I witnessed their daily struggle and fears. Beaten by the authorities, not being paid, living in shacks, missing home. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian workers in Lebanon have lived like that for decades, with virtually no attention from society¨.

As war broke out in Syria, the number of Syrian workers started increasing. “Now that their home cities had become war-zones, they were really trapped. I felt a need to document their plight¨.

It´s not only Syrian workers who suffer from exploitation in Lebanon. Migrant workers from Bangladesh to Ethiopia face similar conditions. Dareen painted and photographed many of them in Beirut. “They build, clean and look after children. They however face racism and are kept invisible¨.

War displaces people and makes migrant workers even more vulnerable to exploitation. As conflict spreads throughout the region with the advance of ISIS, this is a problem that will become more and more acute for workers in Iraq and other countries.

You can watch the film online

Bread and Iron the struggle of Syrian workers . from Dareen J Hasan on Vimeo.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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