The massive statistics describing the refugee crisis of our era are staggering. In Syria alone, nearly 14 million people have been displaced from their homes, including nearly 5 million fleeing to other nations. The numbers beg not only to be heard, but also dissected and understood. And yet, in their magnitude, they are so very easy to ignore.
But when massive numbers turn into individual faces and when those faces take on names, sometimes we begin to pay closer attention. And, every now and then, we begin to consider how we ourselves might be implicated.
This is the gift that Patrick Kingsley offers us in his remarkable book, The New Odyssey: The Story of the 21st-Century Refugee Crisis. Kingsley, a reporter for the Guardian, visited 17 different nations connected to the current refugee crisis, drawing as close as possible to the lives of those fleeing unimaginable terror. He penetrated the underworld that refugees use to get to safer shores, witnessing the fetid holding pens and decrepit camps where they are detained for months on end. He joined rescue missions of migrant boats overloaded to the verge of capsizing on the Mediterranean. He handed out water to families scrambling up rocky cliffs from the Aegean Sea into Greece. He walked for days alongside refugees fleeing through the Balkans in their desperate attempts to gain asylum in Europe. He made contact, in the dark shadows of the night, with nefarious smugglers who profit from the refugees’ plight. He even went so far as to follow one refugee's harrowing journey from North Africa to Sweden, capturing the incredibly complex reality of the refugee's struggle in a way that is both deeply personal and remarkably thorough.
What becomes arrestingly clear through ...1
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