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Max Hastings

From Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar, It’s a World of Refugees

Not since 1945 have so many people fled their homes and nations, and it creates both moral and security dilemmas for Western democracies.

Fleeing war, but to what?

Fleeing war, but to what?

Photographer: Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images

To be a refugee — torn from home, friends, possessions, culture — is never less than a ghastly predicament. Last year, the Welsh-Egyptian filmmaker Sally El Hosaini released a terrific movie, The Swimmers, based on the true story of two young Syrian sisters fleeing from their devastated homeland. 

There is a scene in which they and a score of others attempt a night passage between Turkey and a Greek island: Their overloaded, leaking dinghy begins to sink. The two girls, aspiring Olympic competitors, heroically take to the water to lighten the load.  The film captures, as well as any movie can, the sort of ordeal many such fugitives endure.