What It’s Like When You Are Desperate for a New Life

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“One thing was certain: neither Youssef nor Rashid, nor Anoush nor Shahla, were going to get to the place they believed they were going. Rashid would never be reunited with his wife and sons in some quaint Australian suburb; Youssef would never see his children ‘get a position’ there; Anoush would never become an Australian policeman; Shahla would never benefit from a secular, Western education. What they had to look forward to instead — after the perilous voyage, and after months, maybe years, locked up in an isolated detention center — was resettlement on the barren carcass of a defunct strip mine, more than 70 percent of which is uninhabitable (Nauru), or resettlement on a destitute and crime-ridden island nation known for its high rates of murder and sexual violence (Papua New Guinea).

“How do you tell that to someone who has severed himself utterly from his country, in order to reach another? It was impossible. They wouldn’t believe it.”

-From a stunning new New York Times story by Luke Mogelson and Joel Van Houdt, who went undercover on a boat taking refugees from Indonesia to Christmas Island in Australian territory. Read more from Mogelson and more on Afghanistan.

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Photo: diacimages, Flickr

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