The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown, 112 pp, RL 5
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
by Don Brown
Published by Houghton Mifflin
Purchased from Barnes & Noble
Don Brown begins this chronicle of this ongoing humanitarian tragedy in 2011 with Arab Spring protests in the city of Dara'a. With stark imagery and straightforward text, he introduces readers to the 50+ year totalitarian regime of the Assad family and the horrors they enacted. Deciding they do not want to die, Syrians begin to flee the brutality and violence of their country. Rather than telling stories of individuals, Brown focuses on the insurmountable challenges faced by displaced populations. Refugees drown in a river trying to cross the border and they drown as they try to reach Western Europe on overcrowded smuggler's boats. The refugees use cell phones with GPS to navigate the new lands they are crossing and keep in touch with helpful friends and relatives already resettled. There are moments of kindness from strangers among the horrors, like a TV engineer who lets refugees charge their cell phones from his satellite truck. In 2012, Brown notes the millionth documented Syrian refugee, Bushra, who is registered by the United Nations, the actual number of refugees is much higher.
The plight of the refugees in The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees is unfathomable and difficult to read about, as is the building resentment among host countries, which Brown also documents, country by country. He also notes terrorist attacks in Europe that further increase resentment against the refugees, despite the nationality of the jihadists, and the cries of "Security Comes First," from American and other nations. Brown wraps up his book, which was published in 2018, with the refugee crisis in Greece, which he visited in 2017, knowing that first hand observations would add to the accuracy of his book. The 2016 and the bombing of Assad's enemies by longtime ally, Russia, he ends it with stories of refugees who are still hopeful. Families are reunited, people are rescued from freezing waters and children find new lives, resettled in Canada and California.
Back matter includes photos and information about the camps Brown visited, source notes, a bibliography and a postscript that notes Assad's 2018 chemical gas attacks, ending with this staggering, shocking and shameful information:
There are about 5.7 million registered Syrian refugees. In the first three months of 2018, the United States has accepted eleven for resettlement.