Vancouver Island Events Website

Deborah Campbell: A Disappearance in Damascus

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Monday, March 20th, 2017
11:30 AM to 12:45 PM

In 2007, journalist and UBC professor Deborah Campbell travelled undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. She met and hired Ahlam, a refugee working as a “fixer”—providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out.


Ahlam, a single mother, became the charismatic, unofficial leader of the Iraqi refugee community in Damascus, and Campbell was inspired by her determination to create something good amid so much suffering. One morning Ahlam was seized from her home in front of Campbell’s eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together had led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spent the months that followed desperately trying to find her—all the while fearing she could be next.


Deborah Campbell presents A Disappearance in Damascus, her compelling account of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind one of today’s conflicts, and talks about her work as an immersive journalist. The event is supported by VIUFA Professional Development and Status of Women funds, and by VIU's faculties of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and International Education.

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