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tv   Frontline  PBS  April 20, 2016 4:00am-5:01am PDT

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>> narrator: tonight on frontlinin war-torn aleppo, we first met sara, farah, helen, and mohammed. we've been following them for the past three years as they make the difficult choice to leave the only home they've ever known. (speaking arabic) they're among the millions of children and their families fleeing their country for safety. the sorrow... (sniffles) ...the challenges, and the
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surprises of starting a new life. (screaming playfully) tonight: "children of syria." >> frontlinis made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontliis provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at macfound.org. additional support is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust, supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change
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worldwide, at fordfoundation.org. the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. (swing squeaking)
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>> narrator: sara lives with her three siblings: her sisters helen and farah and her brother mohammed. they live with their parents here in this middle-class suburb that's now a front line in syria's largest city, aleppo. (gunfire) some 200,000 residents have fled the brutal fighting.
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(faint explosion)
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>> (speaking into walkie-talkie) (explosion) >> narrator: the children's father, abu ali, used to be an engineer. when the war began, he was one of the first to join the rebel group the free syrian army. >> narrator: he controls a battalion of fighters. they hold a strategic position on a hill overlooking the old citadel of aleppo. (rapid gunfire) >> (talking on walkie-talkie)
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(gunfire)
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>> narrator: many schools in aleppo have been destroyed or closed. helen gives lessons to her sisters and their friends.
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(faint explosion) (gunfire) >> narrator: mohammed sneaks through the front line to explore his friend's home that's been almost totally destroyed by shelling.
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(loud bang)
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>> narrator: in parts, the city has become a ghost town. the girls go exploring in abandoned homes.
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(faint banging)
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>> allahu akbar, allahu akbar. (cannonfire) allahu akbar! (cannonfire) (gunfire)
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♪ (rumbling) (sirens blaring) (crying)
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(crying continues) (coughing) (crying) >> narrator: in the space of a year, life in aleppo has grown increasingly desperate. islamic extremists have taken over parts of the city. and before christmas, in the middle of the night, the family says isis fighters kidnapped abu ali. they haven't seen him since.
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>> narrator: hala has heard that she might be able to get asylum in germany, which has announced it will take 20,000 syrian refugees.
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>> narrator: tomorrow, the family will leave aleppo. abu ali's mother is too old to make the dangerous trip. she is staying behind with other relatives.
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>> narrator: hala has hired a driver to take her and the children to the turkish border. the only way out of the city is a treacherous road through areas controlled by isis or the regime.
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>> (humming a tune)
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>> (man shouting) >> narrator: after a three-hour drive, the family arrives at a refugee camp on the border.
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by january 2015, more than one and a half million syrians have fled to camps like this, and there's hardly any room for newcomers.
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>> narrator: after two days in the camp, hala and the children cross the border into turkey. their life as refugees has begun. they are heading to istanbul, where they will apply for asylum at the german consulate. hala has used her savings to take a mini-bus across turkey.
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(laughing) (playful screaming) (screaming continues)
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(playful screaming) >> narrator: it's february 2015. the family is staying with a relative in istanbul. they've been waiting to see if their application for asylum in germany will be accepted. (engine roaring overhead)
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(screaming) (sniffling)
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(sniffling)
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>> narrator: after three months in turkey, hala and the children have some good news. they've been granted asylum. with refugee passports, they can now travel safely and legally to germany. they will be supported financially and given a home in an historic mountain town called goslar. >> goslar...
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>> narrator: compared to most syrian refugees, hala and the children are lucky. with their refugee passports, they don't have to pay smugglers to get into europe, and they can afford the flight from istanbul to germany.
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(birds chirping)
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(birds chirping) (birds chirping)
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>> narrator: hala and the children have been in their new home in goslar for two weeks. the family is given 1,900 euros, around $2,200, per month and free health care and education. >> narrator: this is the first day of school for helen and mohammed.
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>> these are the four classes, and this is your classroom. >> yes. >> okay? come on in. >> it's beautiful. >> don't be afraid. everything's fine. they're all very nice, i promise.
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>> mein name is helen. >> mein name is helen. >> ich heisse helen. >> ich heisse helen. >> in syria, we run out from the school. the school is like prison. big, big, big wall around the school. and we make this... okay, one, two, three, and jump! >> she loves your shoes. >> oh! (laughs) >> i love the school more and more and more. >> i have three monkey sisters. i don't have any brothers. three monkey sisters-- they always jump on me. they always punch me. pow! "give me your phone." "no." pow, pow!
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♪ >> narrator: the family have now been in their new home for six months. but since they arrived, the mood in germany has started to shift
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against refugees like them. far-right groups are protesting against so many muslims coming to europe. more than a half million syrians fled to germany in 2015, and the country is struggling to cope with the thousands arriving every day. >> narrator: most refugees are kept in reception centers and hostels while their asylum applications are considered. mohammed and helen have volunteered with some fellow students to help out at one of these centers near goslar. (laughing) (upbeat music playing)
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(cheering) >> (speaking german)
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>> whoo!
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>> (humming) (phone camera snaps) (laughing)
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>> (mouthing words to himself) (birds calling)
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>> (imitating gunfire) get down, get down! (imitating gunfire) (trigger clicking)
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>> narrator: next time on frontlinbenghazi. >> this is the last point we can reach here in the middle of benghazi. >> narrator: five years after the revolution in libya. army, militias, and isis. civilians and children in the crossfire. >> parents sent their children to this school despite snipers, the danger. >> narrator: frontline investigates: "benghazi in crisis." >> go to pbs.org/frontline for more on how children have been affected by the war in syria. (loud explosion) read a conversation with producer marcel mettelsiefen about the making of this film. explore more of our continuing
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coverage of the war in syria, connect to the frontline community on facebook and twitter. and if stories like this matter to you, then sign up for our newsletter at pbs.org/frontline. >> frontlinis made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontliis provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at macfound.org. additional support is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust, supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide, at fordfoundation.org. the wyncote foundation.
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and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our website at pbs.org/frontline. frontline's "children of syria" is available on dvd. to order, visit shoppbs.org or call 1-800-play-pbs. frontline is also available for download on itunes.
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♪ >> each california channel island has its own heartbeat. each island has its own dynamic, it's own size, it's own orientation, its own very intimate personal history. >> well, this is the final frontier of our continent at any rate. >> there's eight islands off the coast of california. the four northerly ones are kind of in a line just off of santa barbara here. >> the southern four islands are more widely scattered, but to just say that they're a group of islands is to completely misrepresent what they are. they are the trace of a vanished world. >> i do this interview with a little hesitation, and i'm a little nervous about what we're doing here. if you love this island, for god's sake, don't come here.

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