In Australia, growing alarm about the arrival of asylum-seekers set in around the time of the Tampa affair in 2001, and has led to the country imposing increasingly draconian anti-refugee policies. In Europe, the recent arrival of over a million refugees and asylum-seekers has provoked a sense of panic across that continent and beyond.
William Maley's illuminating introduction offers a guide to the complex idea of 'the refugee' and sets the current crisis within the wider history of human exile, injecting much-needed objectivity and nuance into the debate.
Arguing that Western states are now reaping the consequences of policies aimed at blocking safe and 'legal' access to asylum, What is a Refugee? shows why many proposed solutions to the refugee 'problem' will exacerbate tension and risk fuelling the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope.
This lucid book also tells of the families and individuals who have sought refuge, highlighting the suffering, separation and dislocation on their perilous journeys to safety. Only through such stories can we properly begin to understand what it is to be a refugee.