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.
‘William Maley has done the world a great service — introducing one of the key questions of our times with rich insight and clarity. His book is a thoroughly readable and essential exploration of refugee issues. I learnt a huge amount from his writing, and I highly recommend it.’
Patrick Kingsley, Migration Correspondent, The Guardian
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‘This is truly a book for its time?… It shows that now, more than ever, it is immoral to remain silent.’
‘With the crisis about boat people out of sight for the present, it’s time to calmly consider what refugees are … Maley discusses this global epidemic with facts, cool accounts of the laws, and careful compassion for the individuals caught in the rip-tide of war.’ FOUR STARS