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Summary

The Western world has turned its back on refugees, fuelling one of the most devastating human rights disasters in history. 

In August 2018, Sally Hayden received a Facebook message. ‘Hi sister Sally, we need your help,’ it read. ‘We are under bad condition in Libya prison. If you have time, I will tell you all the story.’ More messages followed from more refugees. They told stories of enslavement and trafficking, torture and murder, tuberculosis and sexual abuse. And they revealed something else: that they were all incarcerated as a direct result of European policy.

From there began a staggering investigation into the migrant crisis across North Africa. This book follows the shocking experiences of refugees seeking sanctuary, but it also surveys the bigger picture: the negligence of NGOs and corruption within the United Nations. The economics of the 21st-century slave trade and the EU’s bankrolling of Libyan militias. The trials of people smugglers, the frustrations of aid workers, the loopholes refugees seek out and the role of social media in crowdfunding ransoms. Who was accountable for the abuse? Where were the people finding solutions? Why wasn’t it being widely reported?

At its heart, this is a book about people who have made unimaginable choices, risking everything to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.

©2022 Sally Hayden (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Compassionate, brave, enraging, beautifully written and incredibly well researched. Hayden exposes the truth about years of grotesque abuse committed against some of the world's most vulnerable people in all of our names. After this, none of us can say we didn't know." (Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland)

"This vivid chronicle of the lives and dreams of those who risk all to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, may make you cry, but it should make you angry. It is not just a blistering rebuke to those who torture, rape and imprison, but to the rest of us, who turn a blind eye." (Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis)

"Read this great book shedding light on a monstrous crime." (John Sweeney, author of North Korea Undercover)

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