There are over 70 million refugees worldwide, and many of them have shared their stories through memoirs. Here are two memoirs from refugees to read.
Social crisis has always characterized the chaotic nature of humanity, so migration is not a surprising phenomenon. Millions of people have escaped from inhumane conditions in their home countries in order to survive. In 2018, according to the United Nations, the number of people under the refugee classification was over 70 million. This year, that number is expected to increase drastically.
There are many reasons someone may run from their own country, but the main reason many refugees make their escape is because they have no other options. Refugees often live in conditions where you either escape or you die, a critical reason refugees’ stories need to be shared. They are not just other migrants, but instead people whose human rights have been violated.
Refugees not only face many dangers and obstacles escaping from their countries, but often experience intense emotional and psychological conflict due to their suffering. They often must leave everything behind in order to survive, coming to new places to try to start over.
This is why memoirs from refugees are so relevant and important to read. Many refugees who share their stories come from countries where there is still heavy persecution, making these books all the more necessary. These can teach us how important it is to guarantee and protect human rights worldwide.
Escape From Iraq by Zarifa Hassan
We know that each country has its own culture and way of living, but when those cultural elements violate human rights, problems arise. Many refugees escape from their countries because they have suffered violations of their human rights, many sustained through culture and laws. Zarifa Hassan’s Escape from Iraq is the perfect example of just that, as she was a victim of child marriage along with sexual and familial abuse.
In her book, Hassan details the suffering of living under a culture of abuse. From the time she was little, her voice was silenced by the culture she was born in, and she was forced into marriage at the age of 12. She gave birth to four children throughout her abusive relationship, spending most of her life silenced by the fear her culture imposed upon her.
Hassan’s book shares the story of her escape as well as her resilience and forgiveness. She shares that she found her voice and convictions and is now advocating for children who are victims of child marriage worldwide. Hassan truly became a stronger and wiser version of herself.
Is the Grass Really Greener On the Other Side? by Tom Zed
This memoir by Tom Zed was released in January of this year, sharing his experience as a refugee when he was a teenager. His book portrays how millions of children and teenagers experience the refugee condition, and shows that it does not have a specific age or gender.
This is a different kind of memoir on the refugee experience, though, because it not only focuses on escaping from a country but also the contrast between the before and after. Most refugees only know the good they hear about the outside world, not the dark side and more grim facts of other places, such as the fact that there are millions of people escaping but few countries taking them in.
In his memoir, Zed shares the story millions of young refugees experience and the misconceptions that come with becoming a refugee. Zed examines the use of the refugee in political spheres as well as how refugees are viewed and protected—or not protected—in other countries.
Both of these memoirs are difficult but necessary to read as they shed light on a side of the world that many of us will never have to experience. At times, it almost feels like these are fictional books, but the truth is, these things are happening every day. There are millions of people dreaming to escape from their countries to become refugees, no matter the consequences.
Refugees are just one of many consequences that social crisis and dictatorships can bring, so these memoirs are an excellent way to understand the refugee situation worldwide and to raise awareness and empathy for it. As always, I invite you to stay tuned for more memoir recommendations and reviews, because real-life stories must be shared and recognized.