Molly Crabap­ple

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - Molly Crabap­ple

Es­cap­ing Wars and Waves: En­coun­ters with Syr­ian Refugees by Olivier Ku­gler.

Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity Press, 79 pp., $24.95

The Un­wanted:

Sto­ries of the Syr­ian Refugees by Don Brown.

Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 103 pp., $18.99

Threads: From the Refugee Cri­sis by Kate Evans.

Verso, 176 pp., $24.95

In 2016, the year Mace­do­nia com­pletely closed its borders to Syr­ian refugees, I met a young Pales­tinian man named Walid in a squalid army-run camp on the Greek is­land of Samos. I was writ­ing a mag­a­zine story on the con­di­tions in such camps fol­low­ing the deal that March be­tween the EU and Turkey, which was in­tended to re­duce the flow of mi­grants into Eu­rope. Since me­dia per­mits were not forth­com­ing, I ended up sneak­ing in through a hole in the fence. As I in­ter­viewed refugees, Walid ap­proached me.

He had been at the camp for nine months, he said, sleep­ing in a tent in­side a ship­ping con­tainer while the au­thor­i­ties fig­ured out what to do with a Pales­tinian who had been born in north­west Syria. In that time, he’d seen a lot of re­porters, but lit­tle change. “Do you think these ar­ti­cles will do any­thing?” he asked.

I paused to think about it. “No,” I an­swered. “But it’s im­por­tant to keep a record.”

In the years that fol­lowed, I thought of­ten about Walid’s ques­tion. Like Olivier Ku­gler, Don Brown, and Kate Evans, who have each pub­lished new books of comics jour­nal­ism on the sub­ject, I spent years cov­er­ing the mass move­ment of hu­man be­ings that is re­ferred to in Eu­rope as the “refugee cri­sis.” I was a Western jour­nal­ist trav­el­ing freely on my pow­er­ful pass­port, paid to doc­u­ment the mis­ery of peo­ple whose pass­ports trapped them in poverty and war. I shared cig­a­rettes with refugees in tents in Iraq, Le­banon, and Greece. I lis­tened to lit­tle boys talk about the car bombs that killed their fa­thers. Moth­ers told me that drown­ing in the Mediter­ranean would be bet­ter than one more day rot­ting in this god­damn camp.

Like Ku­gler, Brown, and Evans, I sketched. We were some of the many artists who cre­ated en­cy­clo­pe­dic oral his­to­ries, care­fully il­lus­trated, of the Syr­i­ans, Pales­tini­ans, Iraqis, and Afghans we had met. In our sketch­books, we wrote down their me­mories, homes, am­bi­tions, suf­fer­ings, for­mer ca­reers, and trau­mas. What did these doc­u­ments add up to? I won­dered. Our ar­ti­cles changed noth­ing. Why should we be the ones keep­ing the records? In 2018, more na­tions than ever are shut­ting their borders and re­treat­ing into hos­tile na­tion­al­ism. This ap­plies not just to Brexit Bri­tain or Trump Amer­ica, but to the likes of In­dia, which stripped the cit­i­zen­ship of four mil­lion Mus­lims; Myan­mar, which has driven out over 700,000 Ro­hingya since Refugees, Es­cap­ing Wars and Waves: En­coun­ters with Syr­ian

Au­gust 2017; and Turkey, where bor­der po­lice just tor­tured a Syr­ian I know for at­tempt­ing to seek refuge. Ev­ery­where, im­mi­grants are de­mo­nized. Ac­tivists are ar­rested. Dem­a­gogues prom­ise walls. In times like this, chau­vin­ists try to paint refugees as a plague, as ter­ror­ists. Sto­ries are one way to fight back. I don’t know if these books will do any­thing. But records need to be kept.

It doesn’t sur­prise me that Olivier Ku­gler’s Es­cap­ing Wars and Waves: En­coun­ters with Syr­ian Refugees won this year’s Euro­pean De­sign Awards Jury Prize. This recre­ated sketch­book is ar­tis­ti­cally mas­ter­ful. Ku­gler, a Ger­man re­portage artist, made il­lus­trated in­ter­views with refugees in Iraq, Greece, France, Eng­land, and Ger­many from 2013 to 2017. While he worked after the fact from pho­tos he’d taken, each page has all the en­ergy of an im­age drawn on the spot. Ku­gler’s line is as­tute, sin­u­ous. He pulls the main char­ac­ters out with color, but lets the back­ground de­tails over­lap and con­geal. He records the half-drunk Ara­bic cof­fee, the por­ta­ble heater, the elo­quent de­tri­tus of camp life. At their best, sketch­books like Ku­gler’s make read­ers feel as if they are sit­ting be­side the artist—watch­ing the refugees climb onto the beach of the Greek is­land of Kos after cross­ing the Aegean from Turkey, or smelling the tea sold by a ven­dor in an Iraqi refugee camp. Es­cap­ing Wars and Waves be­gins at the Domiz refugee camp in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, where in 2013 Ku­gler stayed with Médicins Sans Fron­tières to doc­u­ment their work. Two years later, MSF com­mis­sioned me to do the same. Like Ku­gler, I vis­ited the camp’s cin­derblock shacks. We each sat with refugees in a cir­cle on the floor, and we each drew them while they spoke. In Ku­gler’s book, their voices stand alone. He gives nei­ther anal­y­sis nor con­text. He is an artist, not a Mid­dle Eastern spe­cial­ist. But as in Joe Sacco’s Pales­tine (1993), Ku­gler’s sprawl of tes­ti­mony shows how these in­di­vid­ual his­to­ries ac­cu­mu­late, blur, and shuf­fle.

Ku­gler es­pe­cially shines when he draws Domiz’s small busi­nesses. At Domiz, as at most Mid­dle Eastern camps, peo­ple know they will be stay­ing there a while. While they stay, they want to live. The UNHCR may pro­vide the bread, but refugee en­trepreneurs hawk life’s roses in a daz­zling and des­per­ate pro­fu­sion. Domiz has wed­ding dress ren­tals and beauty par­lors. Cafés and satel­lite dish re­pair shops. Stores sell­ing soc­cer tro­phies and iPhone cases and nightin­gales. Djwan owns one such busi­ness, rent­ing sound sys­tems. Lean and jaunty, he is a bit of an idol to the camp’s boys, whom he teaches to break­dance and to rap in Kur­dish. He makes Ku­gler tea in his shop, and over six lav­ishly de­tailed pages, Ku­gler un­folds Djwan’s past. Djwan the hip­ster DJ was once a sniper for the Syr­ian Arab Army. He was con­scripted for his manda­tory mil­i­tary ser­vice, but things went bad when his tent­mate com­mit­ted sui­cide. Djwan was jailed and tor­tured for his friend’s sup­posed mur­der. After his fam­ily bought his free­dom, the army sent him to the front lines. When a rebel rocket-pro­pelled grenade hit a regime tank, his “friends . . . be­came ashes.” He de­serted just be­fore a ma­jor rebel at­tack. “No one can say: ‘I am a man and there­fore I am not afraid,’” he says. “We were all scared.”

From Kur­dis­tan, Ku­gler moves to Kos. While Greece was al­ways a cen­ter for ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion, refugees started ar­riv­ing on the is­lands en masse in 2015. Thou­sands came each day, crowd­ing into life rafts with out­board mo­tors for the five-mile voy­age from Turkey to Kos, then coat­ing the beaches with the now fa­mil­iar iconog­ra­phy of de­flated boats and aban­doned, of­ten use­less life jack­ets. Tourists fled, and aid work­ers re­placed them. Lo­cals re­acted oc­ca­sion­ally with xeno­pho­bic vi­o­lence, but most of­ten with as­tound­ing gen­eros­ity and grace. Ku­gler speaks to a Swiss woman who for seven years had run a sou­venir stall on Kos’s port. Now she has to move. Busi­ness is way down. “I am not an­gry with the refugees,” she says. “I can un­der­stand their cir­cum­stances very well. They are my friends.”

The Syr­i­ans who make it to Eu­rope are more ed­u­cated than those stuck in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan. After all, they had two thou­sand dol­lars to pay a smug­gler. In an­other world, a world in which one’s des­tiny was less de­fined by one’s pass­port, they would be sip­ping frap­pés at the very ho­tels whose pro­pri­etors now ban them from rent­ing rooms. In Eu­rope, Ku­gler speaks with refugees who were once lawyers, doc­tors, med­i­cal stu­dents, to a fash­ion de­signer whose art­work was de­stroyed by ISIS and a teenage girl in a tank top who mourns her lost cat. The worst loss for all these peo­ple is the loss of iden­tity. Back home they were re­spected pro­fes­sion­als. Now cops call them mon­keys while they beat them. “For us Eu­rope is not a dream land. It is not par­adise, it is not heaven,” says a young Syr­ian man who has spent the last seven months in a leaky tent in the Calais Jun­gle, a refugee camp in France. But where else can he go?

The story ends in Ku­gler’s home­town, Sim­mozheim, Ger­many, where his par­ents are help­ing a Syr­ian fam­ily from Deir ez-Zor ad­just to their new lives. While the Syr­ian mother and fa­ther share sto­ries from the war they fled, their kids crowd around. When their son Ahmed tells Ku­gler he no longer has night­mares, he does so in “de­cent” Ger­man. Their thir­teen-year-old daugh­ter, Nour, wants to be a nurse— and now goes by Nora.

This re­minds me of an­other story of mi­gra­tion. Like the Syr­i­ans Ku­gler cov­ered, my great-grand­fa­ther fled the twin threats of mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion and po­lit­i­cal op­pres­sion—in his case, the anti-Semitic op­pres­sion of tsarist Rus­sia, where po­lice sent his Bundist com­rades to Siberia, and where Jewish boys faced the draft start­ing at the age of twelve. In 1904, Sh­muel Chu­dozh­nik’s boat landed on El­lis Is­land, where a bu­reau­crat as­signed him a new name, Sa­muel Roth­bort, and he was re­born as an Amer­i­can.

In

The Un­wanted: Sto­ries of the Syr­ian Refugees, Don Brown bol­sters Ku­gler’s lay­ers of tes­ti­mony with lin­ear ex­plana­tory jour­nal­ism. He starts with the ori­gins of the Syr­ian rev­o­lu­tion, in the graf­fiti writ­ten by fif­teen teenagers in the dusty south­west­ern city of Dara’a, then fol­lows du­ti­fully from their ar­rests, the re­sult­ing protests, and the govern­ment crack­down to the well-known tableaus of bombed-out build­ings, refugee boats, and ISIS sol­diers. It is a straight­for­ward story filled with maps and sta­tis­tics, gen­er­ous with the sorts of def­i­ni­tions Amer­i­can au­di­ences still need after decades of med­dling in the Mid­dle East. He sketches a brief his­tory of the As­sad fam­ily’s rise to power, com­pares Is­lam’s divi­sion

into Sun­nis and Shias to Chris­tian­ity’s divi­sion into Epis­co­palians, Methodists, and Bap­tists, and pro­vides a map of Syria for easy ref­er­ence.

“Early on, I de­cided The Un­wanted would fo­cus on the refugee ex­pe­ri­ence and dis­re­gard in­for­ma­tion be­yond that con­straint ex­cept when nec­es­sary for con­text,” Brown writes in the book’s epi­logue. But his dis­cus­sion of the war’s ori­gins are pages well spent. “As­sad uses ar­rests and vi­o­lence to hang on to power,” Brown tells us at one point. “The lucky ones who are even­tu­ally freed re­turn with elec­tric shock marks, cig­a­rette burns, and bro­ken bones.” Later: “As­sad drops bar­rel-bombs and de­stroys build­ings and peo­ple while anti-As­sad ji­hadists take time out of fight­ing to mur­der any who dis­agree with them.” To those fa­mil­iar with the Syr­ian war, this may seem sim­plis­tic, but with­out know­ing this back­ground, how can a reader un­der­stand why Syr­i­ans con­tinue to flee?

Brown draws sim­ply, lay­ing dig­i­tal washes over his sketchy char­coal line. At his best, he verges on the stark sim­plic­ity that comics can do so well. In one dou­ble-page spread, he shows a Syr­ian fam­ily in sil­hou­ette, sneak­ing across a Turk­ish bor­der. With barely any de­tail, he con­veys it all: the trees that re­sem­ble smoke bil­lows, the slumped shoul­ders of the mom, the young child pulling on her fa­ther’s hand. Over those three long pan­els you can feel the painful ex­haus­tion of their march.

Whether they are Turk­ish bor­der po­lice or tor­tured ac­tivists, Brown’s char­ac­ters have mask-like, in­ter­change­able faces. Their mouths are ironic slits. Their eyes bulge car­toon­ishly or else are smudged holes, burn­ing with ran­cor. They are not in­di­vid­u­als, but a mass. Brown tells Syr­ian sto­ries with­out names or iden­ti­fy­ing de­tails. Some­times this works. After a refugee boat cap­sizes, a man floats alone in the glit­ter­ing Mediter­ranean. “I tried to catch my wife and chil­dren in my arms. But one by one, they drowned,” he says. He could be any hu­man on earth.

Other times, this anonymity is less suc­cess­ful. A man tries to cross a check­point with a piano strapped to his pickup truck. A masked Is­lamist asks him: “Don’t you know that mu­sic is for­bid­den by Is­lam?” “They burn the piano. It could have eas­ily been the piano’s owner,” Brown writes. But the same story was told by Ay­ham Ahmed, the fa­mous piano man from the refugee camp of Yar­mouk in Da­m­as­cus. Dur­ing the war, this young Pales­tinian mu­si­cian be­came a YouTube star for post­ing videos of him­self play­ing amid the rub­ble of the dis­trict, sur­rounded by his singing neigh­bors. He has been pro­filed by The New York Times and the BBC. It makes lit­tle sense for Brown to leave out his name.

Since

2015, most Western jour­nal­ists have fo­cused on refugees in Eu­rope, but Brown spends time on the 90 per­cent of refugees who re­main in the Mid­dle East. The fourth-largest city in Jor­dan is now Zaatari, a Syr­ian refugee camp. In Le­banon, where Syr­i­ans

make up over a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion, they face wide­spread racism—one news­pa­per colum­nist ac­cused them of turn­ing fash­ion­able Hamra Street “black”—and work like an­i­mals in the agri­cul­tural and con­struc­tion in­dus­tries, kids along­side adults. “Kids pick pota­toes, la­bor in tex­tile fac­to­ries, or wash dishes,” Brown writes, across four harsh pan­els of toil­ing chil­dren. (In 2013, I vis­ited Syr­i­ans’ makeshift camps in the Bekaa Val­ley. Refugees lived in tents made of bill­board vinyl and burned plas­tic bags for heat.)

Over three mil­lion Syr­i­ans live in some­what bet­ter con­di­tions in Turkey, but Syr­ian kids still beg on Is­tan­bul’s Istik­lal Av­enue and Syr­ian col­lege grad­u­ates still toil in sweat­shops. As for the Gulf, “the wealthy Arab states of Saudi Ara­bia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emi­rates of­fer the refugees no chance for re­set­tle­ment,” Brown notes.

To re­search The Un­wanted, Brown vis­ited three Greek camps in May 2017. By then, the vi­ral cry of “Refugees Wel­come” had long since van­ished. “Eu­rope’s—and the world’s—‘love’ buck­les un­der the huge ex­o­dus,” he writes, and the camps are a tes­ta­ment to this col­lapse. “The last visit to a camp height­ened the dis­com­fort I’d ex­pe­ri­enced on my first visit—that I was a voyeur to tragedy.” Nine months ear­lier, I had met Walid in a camp much like these. They were then, and are now, over­crowded hell­holes. A river of sewage runs through the cen­ter of Mo­ria Camp in Les­bos, where 8,300 peo­ple crowd into a space meant for 3,100. In the fall of 2016, refugees from the Samos camp showed me pho­tos of food the army had served that was laced with mag­gots, and that win­ter, a refugee froze to death in Les­bos. At least four other refugees in Greece have ended up hos­pi­tal­ized after they tried to light them­selves on fire out of de­spair.

Brown is at his most damn­ing when he de­scribes how the world turned against Syr­ian refugees. The friendly Ger­mans of­fer­ing wa­ter bot­tles be­come a line of pinched white faces in a generic Euro­pean cap­i­tal, shout­ing in uni­son: “Refugees not wel­come.” Years pass. The ra­zor wire goes up in Or­bán’s Hun­gary; ISIS mur­ders Parisians in the Bat­a­clan at­tacks, fur­ther turn­ing pub­lic opin­ion against the Syr­i­ans; Rus­sian bombs fall in Syria. Trump as­cends to the Amer­i­can pres­i­dency. Amer­ica has bombed Syria since 2014. It has killed thou­sands of civil­ians and lev­eled the city of Raqqa, where US troops are still sta­tioned. Yet many Amer­i­cans re­main ig­no­rant of the coun­try whose war has, more than any other, shaped our decade. The last lines of Brown’s post­script read: “There are about 5.7 mil­lion reg­is­tered Syr­ian refugees. In the first three months of 2018, the United States has ac­cepted eleven for re­set­tle­ment.”

Un­like the books by Ku­gler and Brown, Threads: From the Refugee Cri­sis, by the comics artist and ac­tivist Kate Evans, is not a Syr­ian story. It is set in the Calais Jun­gle, a tent city in France where thou­sands of refugees and mi­grants lived from Jan­uary 2015 un­til Oc­to­ber 2016, in what Evans calls “a mi­cro­cos­mic Disunited Na­tions.” It is the story of peo­ple from the poor world—Syr­i­ans, yes, but also Eritre­ans, Afghans, Iraqis, Su­danese— pressed up against the bound­aries of a coun­try made rich by ex­ploit­ing the poor world. It is also the story of the vol­un­teers who came to Calais, in­clud­ing Evans her­self. “What are we do­ing, swan­ning about. . . , con­grat­u­lat­ing our­selves on our fab­u­lous re­lief ef­fort?” she de­mands. This mer­ci­less self-ex­am­i­na­tion is one of the book’s finest qual­i­ties.

Threads starts off with lace—the Calais lace-mak­ing in­dus­try, to be

ex­act. In these first few pages, Evans draws dour girls who weave beauty onto their bob­bins, un­til the lace spins else­where, to form bomb blasts, fences, walls. Lace borders nearly ev­ery page. Evans writes this mem­oir in the cut-up style of a punk zine. She splices quiet mo­ments spent draw­ing chil­dren in the camp with vit­ri­olic com­ments left on her blog, where she posted the first chap­ter of what later be­came Threads. “This car­toon could not be bet­ter pro­pa­ganda for bat­tle­field vet­eran Is­lamic mil­i­tant males in­vad­ing North­ern Eu­rope if Lenin him­self pro­duced it”; “these cute refugee ba­bies grow into vile adults who want to de­stroy our coun­try.” In a video in­ter­view posted on­line by her pub­lisher, Evans notes that she did not set out to be a jour­nal­ist. “Jour­nal­ists have a pre­tense to ob­jec­tiv­ity. I have a strong com­mit­ment to telling the truth,” she says. Threads is not an ob­jec­tive doc­u­ment, though it is a work of in-depth jour­nal­ism. As if to stress her sub­jec­tiv­ity, Evans, un­like Ku­gler and Brown, draws her­self into her own work. She is on al­most ev­ery page, an en­thu­si­as­tic pinkhaired woman with a round guile­less face and mourn­ful eyes. You see her giv­ing out mark­ers, buy­ing food with friends to take back to Calais, or talk­ing to her kids. You hear her frus­tra­tions and her fears. In a world where refugees are so of­ten the ob­jects of ob­ser­va­tion, Evans turns her gaze in­ward. “My white priv­i­lege grants me the job of guard­ing the tool tent,” she writes, dur­ing her first stint in Calais. She de­mands to know the rea­sons be­hind “that du­bi­ous metaphor, of refugees as a flood.” “What turned on the tap? The bombs and the guns: the ones that we drop and we sell and we profit from.” What is her re­spon­si­bil­ity? What is her com­plic­ity? What can and can’t she fix? Evans vol­un­teered in the Calais Jun­gle for ten days in all—a week­end in Oc­to­ber 2015, and twice more in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2016. She rep­re­sents a par­tic­u­lar type of vol­un­teer that be­came ubiq­ui­tous dur­ing 2015’s mass mi­gra­tion to Eu­rope. They were not the em­ploy­ees of in­ter­na­tional NGOs who col­lected large salaries to sit in air-con­di­tioned of­fices (in the camp at Samos, refugees de­cided “NGO” stood for “never go out”). They did not wear branded T-shirts or talk about “ben­e­fi­cia­ries.” In­stead, you met them run­ning DIY kitchens just out­side of is­land de­ten­tion cen­ters, march­ing in protests, or play­ing chess with Afghan kids in squats. They were of­ten young, of­ten punk, and gen­er­ally po­lit­i­cally left­ist, with an­ar­chists heav­ily rep­re­sented. They be­lieved in sol­i­dar­ity rather than char­ity. They asked what peo­ple needed, worked spon­ta­neously, and bought tents and or­anges and kids’ books with their own money. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Médicins Sans Fron­tières told me that their work in Greece was mag­nif­i­cent.

Still, Evans does not spare their fail­ures. In one har­row­ing scene, an or­ga­ni­za­tion de­cides to dis­trib­ute kids’ clothes from in­side a trans­par­ent­walled arts cen­ter known as the Good Chance Dome. It’s sup­posed to be a photo op, but turns into a fi­asco. As the des­ti­tute refugees shove, vol­un­teers guard all-too-vis­i­ble boxes of cloth­ing. “The Good Chance Dome has been so many things . . . but al­ways, al­ways, it has been a place of wel­come,” Evans writes. “Now we’re . . . try­ing to keep Threads, peo­ple out.” As ten­sions build, the plas­tic dome col­lapses. Evans jokes darkly that she could have drawn the scene as a car­toon for the Daily Mail.

Gov­ern­ments in­creas­ingly crim­i­nal­ize vol­un­teers like Evans—not just in Eu­rope, but also in the United States. In Jan­uary 2018, the US in­dicted Scott Warren, a vol­un­teer with No More Deaths—a faith-based hu­man­i­tar­ian group in Ari­zona that pro­vides aid to im­mi­grants on the south­west­ern bor­der—on fed­eral charges in­clud­ing con­spir­acy and har­bor­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, Warren gave them food, wa­ter, and shel­ter for three days. If con­victed, he faces up to twenty years’ im­pris­on­ment. Evans doc­u­ments po­lice vi­o­lence, but their panoply of re­stric­tions are some­how even more galling. In Dunkirk, po­lice ban vol­un­teers from tak­ing dry bed­ding into the camp. Later, they ban bread. Chil­dren hud­dle out­side the fence, eat­ing their bread in the rain. In Calais, po­lice de­stroy the frail in­fra­struc­ture of hous­ing, youth cen­ters, dis­tri­bu­tion spots, and restau­rants that refugees and vol­un­teers have built to­gether, which Evans calls “a mon­u­ment to hu­man in­ge­nu­ity and char­ity, how­ever des­o­late and des­per­ate it may be.” Though Threads reads as a sort of di­ary, Evans fo­cuses on the refugees she meets: a tiny girl, de­lighted to get an or­ange; the bored young guys who flirt and talk smack; the preg­nant mother who has just been slapped by a riot cop. Evans’s best friend in camp is Hosh­yar, an Iraqi Kurd with an in­tel­li­gent gra­cious­ness. Hosh­yar shares an eight-foot shack with his friend, uses a sliver of bro­ken glass as a shav­ing mir­ror, and cher­ishes cook­ing for Evans in his makeshift kitchen. For the past four months, he’d been try­ing to catch a ride across the Chan­nel on the bot­tom of a truck, so he could join his un­cle in Croy­don, in south Lon­don.

When Evans meets him, even his lit­tle shack has been marked for de­struc­tion by the French au­thor­i­ties. He will have nowhere to go. Naively, Hosh­yar puts his hope in Bri­tish politi­cians. “Didn’t you know? Im­mi­grants are al­ways feared, al­ways vil­i­fied. They hate you Hosh­yar. They think you’re a ter­ror­ist”—Evans thinks this, but does not say it. As the date of de­struc­tion draws closer, and the prospect of pay­ing an im­pos­si­ble sum to peo­ple smug­glers be­comes more tempt­ing, Hosh­yar be­gins to give in to de­spair.

Nor can Evans keep Calais’s vi­o­lence from af­fect­ing her. A mi­grant dies on the train tracks while pre­sum­ably try­ing to sneak into Eng­land. Po­lice beat a young man while she watches, then force Evans to delete her pho­tos of the in­ci­dent. “Blood is thicker than all the wa­ter in the English Chan­nel, and the Rhine, and the Mediter­ranean, and the Ti­gris river,” she writes, but per­haps the great­est pain she feels is the guilt for not be­ing able to take her friends from the camp with her. In the year Evans spent draw­ing Threads, she went back and forth to Eng­land. A piece of pa­per con­fined her friends to the Jun­gle. She flashed her pass­port, and the po­lice let her cross.

In her es­say “We Refugees,” Han­nah Arendt wrote, “No­body wants to know that con­tem­po­rary his­tory has cre­ated a new kind of hu­man be­ings—the kind that are put into con­cen­tra­tion camps by their foes and in­tern­ment camps by their friends.” Nearly eighty years later, the world has come no closer to en­sur­ing the rights of a hu­man with­out a coun­try. Mostly, gov­ern­ments pro­pose quar­an­tine. In­tern­ment camps grow in Tornillo, Texas, in Les­bos, in Zaatari, and in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. It won’t work. Each year, the world grows warmer. The oceans rise. Wars are fought for ever-scarcer re­sources. If the wealthy West wor­ries about one mil­lion Syr­i­ans, what will it do with mil­lions of cli­mate refugees? “While the bombs still fall, and the bul­lets still reign, there will be refugees at Calais,” Evans writes. “Hope springs eter­nal: peo­ple look­ing for that good chance, that one chance, how­ever slim.”

A de­tail from a page of Olivier Ku­gler’s show­ing a Syr­ian refugee in the Calais Jun­gle camp in France

A de­tail from a spread in Don Brown’s The Un­wanted, show­ing a Syr­ian fam­ily sneak­ing over the Turk­ish bor­der

A page from Kate Evans’s show­ing the de­struc­tion of the Calais Jun­gle camp

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