Human smuggling is now said to have an annual turnover of over $7 billion — more than revenue from smuggling drugs. Caroline Moorehead's important new book looks at 'human cargo' from Afghanistan, Liberia, Palestine and many other places. She has visited war zones, camps, prisons — and the black Dinka families from the Sudan who were re-settled north of the Arctic Circle in Finland.
She follows the fate of 57 young member of the Mandingo tribe, who fled ethnic cleansing and ended up happily in America via Egypt. She is shown the graves in Sicily of drowned boat people, and examines the fence that has been built across Texas and into the sea to keep migrants out of America. She has interviewed emigration officials in Australia and members of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva. Is there a valid distinction between 'good' asylum seekers and 'bad' economic migrants?
What happens to those whose applications are turned down? The difficult questions are asked, the horrible issues faced. But, above all, Human Cargo celebrates the courage, cheerfulness and will to survive of ordinary human beings.
NOMINEE 2005 - National Book Critics Circle Awards
"Over the coming months here, as a general election approaches in which asylum, refugees and immigration are likely to be key issues, we will hear a lot from politicians about numbers, about 'floods' of immigrants heading towards our shores. What we are unlikely to hear, because we seldom do, are the voices of refugees themselves. To restore the balance, read this compelling and important book."
—Victor Sebesteyen, The Evening Standard
"Moorehead succeeds in translating the jargon of a now highly professionalised refugee field for the general reader...she explains each conflict succinctly, and her doing so highlights how rarely discussions about refugees are linked to an understanding of long-term problems in countries of origin. She points out that asylum is fundamentally a moral dilemma, not just bureaucratic conundrum — which is a good enough starting point for those people who think they have all the answers"
—Ophelia Field, The Sunday Telegraph
Caroline Moorehead wrote a column on human rights first for The Times and then for the Independent (1980-91) and made a series of TV programmes on human rights for the BBC (1990-2000). She has written the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1998); and has helped to set up a Legal Advice Centre for refugees in Cairo, where she has also started schools and a nursery. Currently she works as a volunteer on the legal team for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, while also continuing to review and write on human rights in many different papers.
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