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Bordered Lives

How Europe fails refugees and migrants

Bordered Lives: How Europe fails refugees and migrants is Hsiao-Hung Pai’s landmark book in the reporting of what we know as Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’ or ‘migrant crisis’ – and a cry from the heart about an asylum system that is simply not fit for purpose. Pai travels to meet migrants and asylum-seekers who have just been washed up on the shores of Lampedusa and Sicily and have been absorbed into dismal reception camps. She also follows the journey of some of the people who have ended up in Western Europe. While the news headlines about the ‘refugee crisis’ focus on people smuggling and encourage a far-right response to it, Pai finds the ‘crisis’ to be one about Europe’s response to the displaced people.

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The headlines about Europe’s migration crisis have now subsided, though they continue to influence the political agenda all over the continent. Though there are moments when the human reality cuts through, as with the shocking picture of baby Alan Kurdi’s body on the beach, for the most part, the individual stories are lost amid the hysteria over cutting migrant numbers and shutting the doors of Fortress Europe. More than 25,000 migrants have died in their attempt to reach or stay in Europe since 2000. More than 5,000 migrants lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean seas in 2016 – they were drowned, suffocated or crushed during the crossing. In 2017 over 3,000 migrants lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean.

Award-winning journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai specializes in communicating poignant human stories that many people find it convenient to keep out of sight and out of mind. She travels to meet migrants and asylum-seekers who have just been washed up on the shores of Lampedusa or Sicily and have been absorbed into dismal reception camps. While journalists ordinarily pitch up in such places and file their colour pieces before moving on to the next hot topic, Hsiao-Hung follows through, staying in touch with some of those she encounters – many of them children – throughout their journeys: into mainland Italy, to Germany where they face harassment from far-right groups, and to the appalling conditions in the camps on the coast of northwest France.

These personal stories of individuals break apart the false distinction between ‘refugees’ and ‘migrants’, between ‘those seeking refuge’ and ‘those wanting a better life’, a distinction that has resulted in denying many people of their human rights.

About the AUTHOR:

Hsiao-Hung Pai is a journalist and author of Chinese Whispers: The Story Behind Britain’s Hidden Army of Labout (2008), shortlisted for the Orwell Book Prize 2009; Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants, (2012), winner of the Bread and Roses Award 2013, Invisible (2013) and Angry White People (2016). She has written for the Guardian and many Chinese publications worldwide. 

Page Count: 
14 x 21.6cm
UK Publication Date: 
Monday, 8 January, 2018
Publication Date:
Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A devastating indictment of Europe’s brutal treatment of migrants & refugees. Angry, compassionate, and committed reporting from one of the finest investigative journalists. 

Matthew Carr, author of Fortress Europe

 If we are living in a world that keeps creating refugees, and then rejecting those refugees, we have to honour writers such as Hsiao-Hung Pai for shining a light on this madness and refusing to look away. 

Benjamin Zephaniah, poet

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