Giving faces to the headline stories about the flood of immigrants seeking asylum in Europe.
McDonald-Gibson, a Brussels-based correspondent for the Independent and TIME, has covered international affairs for the past 13 years. Looking behind the headlines, she chronicles the experiences of five immigrants and their families to provide a scaffold for understanding the turmoil in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East that has driven more than 1.5 million people to leave their homes and families since 2011. “For decades,” writes the author, “hopes of a better life had pushed people to Europe's unwelcoming shores,” some in the hope of finding work and others to escape the chaotic conditions of civil war or to avoid military conscription. McDonald-Gibson’s stories are all poignant, and she begins with Majid Hussain, from a wealthy Nigerian family. In 2011, he saw his Muslim father murdered by a Christian mob. On the run, he escaped to Libya, but as an undocumented immigrant, his situation was precarious, and he was forced to flee again, this time to a refugee camp in Italy (he gained asylum in 2013). Hussain was one of the lucky ones who escaped; many died on the way. McDonald-Gibson blames this on the failure of the European Union to give refugees the opportunity to immigrate legally and to welcome them on arrival, and she pinpoints the so-called Arab Spring as a turning point. While European politicians hailed the uprisings, they failed to come through with tangible support for those forced to flee. This helped to create the perfect environment for the development of a lucrative illegal immigration industry. Furthermore, thousands still languish in refugee camps, a situation that has provided a recruitment opportunity for the Islamic State group and other radical organizations. Skillfully weaving together the tragic stories of her subjects, McDonald-Gibson successfully humanizes them and provides readers a much-needed inside look at a significant problem.
A powerfully written, well-documented account of a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.