The Globe's Elite At Davos Spent Hours Pretending To Be Refugees

Turkey Syrian Refugee CampsREUTERSA Syrian refugee boy stands in front of his makeshift tent in central Ankara October 5, 2013. Some 150 Syrians, mostly from villages near Syria’s Aleppo, prefer to settle in the central Turkish capital instead of refugee camps run by the Turkish government.

Executives, billionaires, and the global economic elite at Davos are not just discussing the course of the global economy at Davos; many of them also attended a complex simulation aimed at making them feel like honest-to-god refugees from a war-torn country, reports the Irish Times.

Crossroads foundation — a Hong Kong-based nonprofit — aims to bring the real world feeling of being a refugee to the world’s rich, without any of the real world consequences.

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg may be the world’s newest billionaire, but she will mark the occasion fighting for food and scrabbling in dirt with machine guns pointed in her face,” writes Derek Scally of IT.

Here’s how Crossroads describes the event:


Participants face simulated attacks, mine fields where they may be ‘injured’, life in a refugee camp, hunger, illness, lack of education, corruption and uncertain shelter or safety. Participants may also be marched under guard, subjected to ambush and, ultimately, offered a chance of re-settlement where they must re-build their lives.

Age Group: 16 – Adult
Ideal Group Size: 20 – 80
Time: 2 hours

The Crossroads YouTube video features a guy brandishing an AK and talking a lot about bridging the gap between rich and poor. A Hong Kong news report for the “Refugee Run” program makes it look a lot like some of the immersion training Marines get prior to deploying — to include the frantic yelling.

Participants can pull the plug whenever they feel they’re sufficiently saturated with whatever scenario they’ve paid to attend.

Scenarios range the “A.I.D.S. X-Perience” to the “Slum X-Perience” — which are both self-explanatory.

Scally, who attended the one at Davos, writes:

Crossroads believes that only when world leaders experience the chaotic conditions refugees endure will they experience real empathy and act.

I’m in the first group trooping down the stairs of a Davos school, clutching an ID card. For the next 30 minutes I am Ajmal Mounir, the card reads, a 17-year-old quarry worker with good health but no prospects.

Despite the stated intent, it’s easy to see why people might object. These simulations noticeably blur the line between raising awareness and war tourism.

Meanwhile, Syria and the growing refugee camps in Turkey represent the reality behind simulations like “Refugee Run.”

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