According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, of the world’s nearly 14 million refugees, more than 7 million have languished in refugee camps for ten years or more, some for generations. Although the international community tries to find durable solutions to their plight, less than 1% are ever offered a chance of resettlement.
HOME ACROSS LANDS is a documentary that explores the journey of resettlement-- it tells the story of a small group of Kunama refugees and how they reestablish their sense of community in their new home in America.
Considered to be some of the original inhabitants of Eritrea, the Kunama people are a marginalized minority populating the remote and fertile regions near the border of Ethiopia.
In 1998, war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out in a conflict over these border lands forcing over 4,000 Kunama to flee across the border into Northern Ethiopia. In 2000, the war ended with the Eritrean government regaining control of the disputed area, separating thousands of Kunama from their homeland and way of life.
Today the Kunama wait in desolation, 45 km from the disputed Eritrean/Ethiopian border, warehoused in the Shimelba Refugee Camp in Northern Ethiopia. Life in the camp is difficult and opportunities for a better life are nonexistent, but the Kunama remain committed to their strong sense of community and family in spite of their displacement. Unwanted in Ethiopia and unable to return to their homes safely, a small number of Kunama are given the opportunity for resettlement in the United States.
HOME ACROSS LANDS chronicles the journey of these newly arrived Kunama as they strive to become self-reliant, invested participants in their new home. Guiding their transition is the resettlement agency, International Institute of Rhode Island, that connects them to the resources they need as they work to establish a new community and better life for their families.