Awards Spotlight Series – Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey

Rania in front of a bomb crater in the border city of Kobane in northern Syria. Credit Rania Mustafa Ali.


In a world of seemingly never-ending hostility and division, journalists and filmmakers who dedicate their careers to telling stories that highlight our common humanity and break down prejudices have never been more important.

The One World Media Awards champion this crucial work, celebrating the best media coverage of developing countries across print, film, television, radio, audio and digital.

This spotlight series will highlight some of the industry’s best examples of media that bridges the divide between cultures worldwide and raises awareness of underreported stories.


One World Media Refugee Reporting Award Winner, 2018

Escape from Syria is a deeply personal and immersive story that gave viewers a fresh and authentic perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis at a time when public interest was waning. The project was filmed by Rania Mustafa Ali, 20, as she journeyed from war-torn Kobane in Syria to Austria. Her cheerful determination and humorous interactions with other refugees made the brutality and insecurity that often surrounded her even more shocking.

Rania was cheated by people smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border, and risked drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, travelling in a boat designed to hold 15 people but stuffed with over 50. Her powerful footage showed what many refugees face on their perilous journey to Europe in hope of securing a safe future. The film became a viral phenomenon and has had over 8 million views on The Guardian’s website and Facebook page – over 80,000 of those sharing the link to the film with others.

“After our documentary went viral, it’s been touching to see how many people care about the dangers refugees face, and the way they are treated. We are very proud of the One World Media Award. It’s a great recognition of a project that became much bigger than we thought it would be.”

Anders Hammer & Rani Ali, One World Media Refugee Reporting Award Winners 2018

Anders Hammer holds a picture of Rania Mustafa Ali and Ayman Al Huseen, with award presenter Pasca Lane, Director of Media at British Red Cross

Escape from Syria was awarded the One World Media Refugee Reporting Award in 2018. Sponsored by British Red Cross, this award celebrates media that covers refugee and asylum-seeker issues by telling compelling stories that generate empathy, understanding and are reported on accurately and fairly.

“We have sponsored the Refugee Reporting Award for 4 years now, because we believe that accurate and powerful reporting of refugee issues is so important. There are 65 million displaced people in the world today who are forced to leave their homes because of conflict, natural disasters, persecution and hunger.

We were really blown away by the storytelling in the three shortlisted entries. I think that they really exemplify that there is a shared humanity, and the power of the storytelling really makes you feel that.”

Pasca Lane – Director of Media, British Red Cross

This award was one of the most competitive of 2018, with the greatest number of entries from across all 14 categories. The task of shortlisting and selecting the final winner fell to the award’s jury, chaired by Kristy Siegfried, Senior Editor and Writer at the UN Refugee Agency.

““It’s easy to understand why this film was watched by over 8 million people. The footage is raw and powerful, particularly the scenes showing terrified families in an overcrowded boat and of refugees choking on teargas at the Macedonian border. But it’s Rania’s humanity, resilience and humour that really lifts this piece to another level. Being able to identify with this young woman, who is forced to put herself in danger in order to avoid danger, is crucial for humanising the situation of refugees in Europe and creating greater solidarity with them.”

Kristy Siegfried

Watch – Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey


Across 15 categories including print, film, television, radio, audio and digital, the One World Media Awards celebrate the best media coverage of developing countries, reflecting the social, political and cultural life of people around the globe.

The One World Media Awards 2019 are now accepting entries! Find out more about the Awards, including eligibility and criteria.

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