An arresting portrait of the lives of today's refugees and a searching look into their future
The word refugee is more often used to invoke a problem than it is to describe a population of millions of people forced to abandon their homes, possessions, and families in order to find a place where they may, quite literally, be allowed to live. In spite of the fact that refugees surround us-the latest UN estimates suggest that 20 million of the world's 6.3 billion people are refugees-few can grasp the scale of their presence or the implications of their growing numbers.
Caroline Moorehead has traveled for nearly two years and across four continents to bring us their unforgettable stories. In prose that is at once affecting and informative, we are introduced to the men, women, and children she meets as she travels to Cairo, Guinea, Sicily, the U.S./Mexico border, Lebanon, England, Australia, and Finland. She explains how she came to work and for a time live among refugees, and why she could not escape the pressing need to understand and describe the chain of often terrifying events that mark their lives. Human Cargo is a work of deep and subtle sympathy that completely alters our understanding of what it means to have and lose a place in the world.
The intractable, multifaceted problem of people driven from their homes by poverty, violence or persecution is given a human face in this moving survey of the refugee experience. Moorehead, a human rights journalist, refugee aid worker and biographer of Martha Gellhorn, tours a number of refugee milieus, visiting, among others, Liberian refugees in Cairo, Mexican migrants waiting to cross into the United States, Mideastern refugees detained in Australian internment camps and Palestinian refugees still nursing hopes of returning to a homeland they have never seen. She finds that refugees who remain in the Third World-the majority-are preoccupied with the struggle for survival. Those who make it to Western countries face an equally daunting task, caught in a legal limbo between asylum and deportation, forbidden to work, grappling with a strange language, loneliness and a society that views them as alien interlopers. Moorehead draws sympathetic portraits of individual refugees, replete with horror stories of the travails they fled and their precarious but hopeful efforts to build new lives, but also pulls back to examine what she says are the sometimes counterproductive policies of aid organizations and the indifference and callousness of Western governments. Agent, Clare Alexander at Gillion Aitken. (Mar. 3) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.