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MY FOURTH TIME, WE DROWNED by Sally Hayden Kirkus Star


Seeking Refuge on the World's Deadliest Migration Route

by Sally Hayden

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-61219-945-0
Publisher: Melville House

A powerful, horrific account of the rigors that African immigrants face in fleeing their homelands for sanctuary in Europe.

“You become cargo, a piece of meat, a being that loses humanity when you can no longer recognize the humanity of others around you.” So writes Hayden, the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times, regarding the global refugee crisis. The European Union has seemed of two minds about illegal immigration into its domain: Leaders lament the human rights implications the refugees underscore even as they put more effort into blocking the flow. “In 2018,” writes the author, “a study found that almost 1,000 kilometers of border walls had been erected by EU member states and states in the European Schengen travel area since the fall of the Berlin Wall nineteen years before.” Moreover, the EU has contracted with the Libyan government—such as it is in a time of civil war—to intercept refugees crossing the middle Mediterranean and house them in settlements that resemble concentration camps, one even bearing the nickname “Guantánamo.” In some cases, refugees are used as human shields, meant to deter attacks by rival warlords, often to no avail. Worse, many are forced into slavery, either in Libya or delivered into the hands of the Mafia in southern Italy and put to work on farms there. Hayden tells her story through deep exploration of legal papers, archives, and government data. Even more affective are her personal encounters and interviews with refugees themselves, whose situations, if anything, seem to be worsening. “Between 2014 and 2020,” she writes, “more than twenty thousand men, women, and children would die on the Mediterranean Sea,” while Europeans who try to assist them often became targets of legal prosecution. The narrative is consistently harrowing, revealing the complexities within a global crisis that lacks an easy solution, especially as the numbers of refugees mount.

An important contribution to the literature of forced immigration and humanitarian crisis.