In August 2018, Sally Hayden received a Facebook message. ‘Hi sister Sally, we need your help,’ it read. ‘We are under bad condition in Libya prison. If you have time, I will tell you all the story.’ More messages followed from more refugees. They told stories of enslavement and trafficking, torture and murder, tuberculosis and sexual abuse. And they revealed something else: that they were all incarcerated as a direct result of European policy.
From there began a staggering investigation into the migrant crisis across North Africa. This book follows the shocking experiences of refugees seeking sanctuary, but it also surveys the bigger picture: the negligence of NGOs and corruption within the United Nations; the economics of the twenty-first-century slave trade and the EU’s bankrolling of Libyan militias; the trials of people smugglers; the frustrations of aid workers; the loopholes refugees seek out; and the role of social media in crowdfunding ransoms. Who was accountable for the abuse? Where were the people finding solutions? Why wasn’t it being widely reported? At its heart, this is a book about people who have made unimaginable choices, risking everything to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.
Sally Hayden’s heart-stopping account of the plight of contemporary refugees is both a compelling epic and an intimate encounter with exact personal experience. She achieves what all great writing hopes to do – the restoration of humanity to those who have been deprived of it. This is a vital book for anyone who wants to feel what it means to be human in the 21st century. Fintan O’Toole
Sally Hayden is an award-winning journalist and photographer focused on migration, conflict and humanitarian crises. She is currently the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times and has worked with many...Read More
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