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Caroline Moorehead has traveled for nearly two years and across four continents to bring us their unforgettable stories. In prose that is at once affecting and informative, we are introduced to the men, women, and children she meets as she travels to Cairo, Guinea, Sicily, the U.

She explains how she came to work and for a time live among refugees, and why she could not escape the pressing need to understand and describe the chain of often terrifying events that mark their lives. Human Cargo is a work of deep and subtle sympathy that completely alters our understanding of what it means to have and lose a place in the world. Journalist and biographer Moorehead Gellhorn, , etc. Dictatorial regimes and calamitous wars in the 20th century Looking forward to this book as it seems to seek out refugees shortly after they leave their home country and wind up in various places.

Starts with the Liberians in Cairo; very interesting! A distinguished biographer, Caroline Moorehead has served as a columnist on human rights for two British newspapers. More recently, she has worked directly with refugees by helping to establish a variety of services for African refugees in Cairo. She is the author of Gellhorn and lives in London. Caroline Moorehead. An arresting portrait of the lives of today's refugees and a searching look into their future The word refugee is more often used to invoke a problem than it is to describe a population of millions of people forced to abandon their homes, possessions, and families in order to find a place where they may, quite literally, be allowed to live.

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I recommend this book to anyone interested in human rights and the horrible plight that refugees endure to seek safety. Feb 10, Mark Hebden rated it really liked it Shelves: history , politics. Refugees and Asylum Seekers have become political footballs in recent years, this book traces the history of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR and follows the conditions of people seeking asylum in the world today.

There are some personal, tragic and horrific accounts of the violence and persecution that people flee from, and the bureaucratic morass and ill-feeling they encounter when they finally arrive at any given destination in search of, not just a better life, but some semblanc Refugees and Asylum Seekers have become political footballs in recent years, this book traces the history of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR and follows the conditions of people seeking asylum in the world today.

There are some personal, tragic and horrific accounts of the violence and persecution that people flee from, and the bureaucratic morass and ill-feeling they encounter when they finally arrive at any given destination in search of, not just a better life, but some semblance of human existence. We hear of men and women tortured and separated from their children or partners, one young man even suffered seeing soldiers playing football with his mothers severed head; this is no book for the faint of heart or stomach. It is harrowing, and all the more so because it is true.

Such stories ejected from the pen of a Poppy Z. Brite novel would be macabre but fictional, these are not. The most important aspect of the book is the slow but steady regression of refugee rights when they reach, supposedly more tolerant societies. As citizens of the world we have failed our brothers and sisters, and continue to do so with sickening gusto. We were happy to let in the victims of authoritarian communism when escaping the GDR or USSR during the cold war, now we refuse entry to those in need.

Refusing to let the needy in is as bad as any nation not letting them out, furthermore, while we continue to tolerate and encourage a world so unequal, then we must also tolerate the victims of that world seeking redress. Human Cargo is a difficult, but absolutely essential, read. Compelling and harrowing, Moorehead takes the reader through a global account of the refugee crisis - a patchwork of modern history and human accounts.

Crucially, she succeeds at humanising the numbers.

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Moorehead effectively covers post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems caused by torture, killings, violence, fear and overwhelming loss, and further depression caused by uncertainty and the long limbo of the asylum Human Cargo is a difficult, but absolutely essential, read. Moorehead effectively covers post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems caused by torture, killings, violence, fear and overwhelming loss, and further depression caused by uncertainty and the long limbo of the asylum process in most countries.

The Australian immigration system in particular, turning away boats of refugees and exercising indefinite detention, made my blood boil. I thought this book deserves five stars, however it bothered me that this edition seemingly had not been updated at all, having first been published in Most of the chapters would have benefitted from some more recent statistics, especially as the refugee crisis has grown considerably worse over the last few years. I fully agree with Moorehead's conclusion - "how a state deals with its refugees should be a measure of its social and political health.

Apr 23, george rated it liked it Shelves: read-in , grown-up-books.

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I read the hardcover version of this book which, for some reason, is nowhere on here. A very good and detailed look at refugees today. What it means to be a refugee, how a person becomes a refugee, and what other countries are doing about refugees. What was nice about this is that it has a lot of stories about actual refugees--how they came to be refugees and what their lives are like as refugees.

And this is what is so heartbreaking. What is worse is that these stories are an unbelievably small I read the hardcover version of this book which, for some reason, is nowhere on here. What is worse is that these stories are an unbelievably small fraction of refugees. One thing that I took away from this is that the lives of refugees aren't automatically better if and when they are accepted to new countries--sometimes they are just as bad, but a different kind of bad. The saddest thing that I was aware of before but reinforced to a great degree in the book, is that so many countries don't really understand refugees.

They don't or can't comprehend the horrors these people have endured; the lives and families they have had to leave behind; the people close to them killed in front of the survivor. But most countries don't want these people and do everything in their power to refuse them. There must a a huge overhaul in the system and this must happen sooner than later. A brilliantly moving and important book detailing the journeys and hardships faced by refugees around the world. One thing that really struck me was the effect that uncertainty has ones ability to live life.

The uncertainty of whether you will granted asylum, the uncertainty of where you will end up and crucially whether you will be settled long enough in one place to start making connections such as friends or start an educational course, or whether you will be shortly shifted to another unfami A brilliantly moving and important book detailing the journeys and hardships faced by refugees around the world. The uncertainty of whether you will granted asylum, the uncertainty of where you will end up and crucially whether you will be settled long enough in one place to start making connections such as friends or start an educational course, or whether you will be shortly shifted to another unfamiliar location and have to familiarise yourself with a whole new place and people.

This uncertainty prevents people living in any meaningful way. The book does a great job in humanising refugees, proving insight into their world and documenting their stories.

You learn about the homes they have been forced and flee and why they may never be able to return, whether because of a physical threat that still exists, or the very real mental trauma that home now represents, due to their prior experience. Sep 21, Aditya Raj rated it it was amazing.

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Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees-- book review

Last few decades of the 20th century witnessed an unprecedented mass exodus of people throughout the world and gradually it has become even worse as there seems to be no end to the cataclysms like civil wars, environmental catastrophes, foreign invasions etc. The flow of migrants and asylum seekers have been a constant predicament to the governments throughout the world as most of them are signatories to the UNHCR convention and hence have responsibilities to grant asylum to those fleeing persec Last few decades of the 20th century witnessed an unprecedented mass exodus of people throughout the world and gradually it has become even worse as there seems to be no end to the cataclysms like civil wars, environmental catastrophes, foreign invasions etc.

The flow of migrants and asylum seekers have been a constant predicament to the governments throughout the world as most of them are signatories to the UNHCR convention and hence have responsibilities to grant asylum to those fleeing persecution in their country of origin. So far almost all the signatory states have failed to comply with the provisions of the convention with regard to the intake capacities and the inefficiency further seems to have been exacerbated by the underfunding of the UNHCR.

Moreover, as the globalisation paved the way for the exchange of services and ideas, the refugee crisis has become ever dynamic resulting into various kinds of asylum seekers ranging from the ones fleeing persecution to those seeking asylum for exploiting economic opportunities which makes the crisis even more complicated and unexplored. At the receiving end of all these inefficiencies and predicaments are the asylum seekers who try to make it to the safer lands by enduring perilous journeys.

They hope of a better future but end up disillusioned once they make it to the other end as they either get deported or are left to languish without any work or a place to sleep unless their applications for a refugee status are accepted, which in many cases takes a year or even a longer period. This book is an insight of the lives of these asylum seekers who even after fleeing their countries cannot get rid of the ordeals as their claims for a refugee status is either rejected or they have to live in the camps in unfathomable conditions until the resettlement takes place or they can be sent back home once it is declared to be safe enough for return.

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The author, Caroline Moorehead, in her book Human Cargo has brought to us a deep humane insight of the lives of refugees in different parts of the world like Cairo, Mexico, Liberia, Australia, Sicily, Newcastle, Afghanistan etc. Her details on the asylum policies of the governments and the limitations of the UNHCR as an organisation for the protection of the refugees fleeing persecution is very persuasive. She excels in describing the ordeals of the asylum seekers who look for a better future but end up getting stuck in the limbo completely uncertain of their future.


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She says that asylum seekers have no home but the one they left behind and it, apparently, is true. Her unmatched account of the traumas the asylum seekers deal with throughout their lives, the depression and stress which haunts them, the linguistic and cultural barriers they face in the new communities, the way liberal governments fail in protecting the humanitarian values etc.

May 01, Cheryl rated it really liked it. This was a heartbreaking and very instructive book very relevant to today. I liked how she divided the book up into the different sections leaving, arriving, afterward and dealt with the different issues that concerned each. Overall I felt the author was fairly even handed in her presentation of the topic.

It didn't become too preachy, but presented both sides of the argument. The only weakness, which is not the book's fault, is that even now, ten years later it is somewhat outdated.


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  • Not on th This was a heartbreaking and very instructive book very relevant to today. Not on the overall theme but the severity of the issue. It was almost funny to see her write that refugee numbers are down because anyone who pays attention to the news knows that there is a refugee crisis happening in Europe and there are more refugees worldwide now than since WWII.

    Not her fault since she can only talk about what was happening at the time, but it doesn't make me curious how or if the book would be changed today. Aug 14, Helen rated it did not like it. Moorehead's other works. I was deeply appalled by hypocrisy and anti-Semitism in the chapter describing Palestinian camps.