The BBC has defended a game which invites players to mimic the choices Syrian refugees are forced to make when they flee the war-torn country, after it was criticised for trivialising the ordeal.
In “Syrian Journey", players are asked to consider the choices they would make if they had to leave Syria for Europe in order “to understand the real dilemmas the refugees face”, in a journey fraught with risks including “death, capture and deportation”.
Troubling outcomes in the game include being separated from your family by human traffickers, being sold to militia groups, and being beaten thrown into the Mediterranean Sea.
The broadcaster was accused of reducing the plight of Syrians – many of whom have dealt with a civil war exacerbated by an onslaught by Isis fighters - to a “children’s game”.
In pictures: Syria's escalating refugee crisis
In pictures: Syria's escalating refugee crisis
1/20 Syria refugee crisis
A young Syrian refugee stands near jerry cans used to collect water at Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. The United Nations hopes that political talks between the warring sides in Syria will clinch local ceasefires to allow vital food and medicines to reach millions of civilians
2/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syrian refugees transport small stones for their tents at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria
3/20 Syria refugee crisis
Representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a deeply divided opposition, world powers and regional bodies started a long-delayed peace conference aimed at bringing an end to a nearly three-year civil war
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A Syrian refugee family rests inside their shelter in Hatay, Turkey
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A Syrian refugee family from Aleppo crosses the Bosphorus from Uskudar to the European side of Istanbul
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Syria's air force struck rebel-held areas around Damascus and Aleppo as face-to-face peace talks tentatively began in Switzerland
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Syrian refugees look out from an evacuated house in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul. Syrians fill houses which have been evacuated for urban development projects. Destitute Syrian refugees who have fled the war in Syria and camps in Turkey are fighting for their lives in different parts of Istanbul
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Refugees who moved into the houses in Kucukpazar neighbourhood near the historic Suleymaniye mosque, are struggling to live without water and heating
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A Syrian woman and her child stand inside a building in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul
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A Syrian boy sits in debris in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul
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Damaged buildings line a street in the besieged area of Homs
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People sit around a fire along a street lined with debris in the besieged area of Homs
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Children cut wood pieces in the besieged area of Homs. Efforts to get food and medical aid into Homs have become a test case on whether peace talks in Switzerland can produce any practical results almost three years into the Syrian conflict
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Boys walk along a street past damaged buildings and vehicles in the besieged area of Homs
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Syrians stand in a destroyed street following a reported airstrike by government forces on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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Rescue teams search for survivors on the rubble of a building following Syrian government air raids in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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A graveyard in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
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A view of destruction in Aleppo's ancient Umayyad mosque, in the UNESCO-listed northern Syrian city. The mosque's minaret was blown up during clashes between opposition and government forces
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Syrians attend the funeral of victims who reportedly died of hunger in the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus
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A man holds the corpse of one-year old baby Adbul Jalil Mohamed Hamis wrapped in shrouds, who reportedly died of hunger in the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus during a funeral ceremony
Since the conflict started in 2011, at least 3 million people have fled Syria to countries including Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, according to the UN.
Middle East expert Chris Walker told The Sun: “In the midst of probably the bloodiest Syrian crisis this century, the decision of the BBC to transform the human suffering of literally millions into a children's game beggars belief.”
However, the BBC and refugee charities have defended the game as a method of raising awareness about the bloody conflict.
“Syrian Journey is an interactive experience, based on real-life stories told to our journalists, which shows audiences the choices faced by thousands of Syrian families every day. The project has achieved over a million online hits,” the BBC said in a statement.
A BBC spokesman also refuted claims that the project cost in the region of £20,000, and said it was produced by an in-house team, and therefore incurred no extra costs.
He also hit back at claims that it was "children’s games" and said it is not aimed at any particular demographic, but is rather a tool for those interested in learning more about the situations Syrian refugees face.
The Refugee Council, a UK charity which works with refugees and those seeking asylum in the UK, has backed the game’s intentions.
Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis told The Independent: “Thankfully, most people in Britain have never had to flee their homes or make life and death decisions about their family’s future. Stimulating people’s imagination about the difficult journeys refugees are forced to take is an important way of creating understanding of and empathy for refugees.
Addressing the fact that the UK government has only resettled 143 Syrian refugees, she added: "The real scandal here is that the Government makes no effort to address the suffering our immigration policies cause which force refugees to undertake such journeys and put their lives at risk in order to reach safety."Reuse content