Today is World Refugee Day, and the refugee crisis is worse than it's been in more than 70 years. The UN Refugee Agency reports that more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced and a third of them are international refugees fleeing war, violence, or persecution.
Artist and activist Kate Evans's new graphic memoir, Threads: From the Refugee Crisis, aims to shine a light on this important issue. The hardcover, which is out today from Verso, is an urgent and heartbreaking look inside the Calais refugee camp in northern France. Commonly known as the "Jungle," the camp was a sprawling shantytown that was, at the time of its demolition in October 2016, a precarious home to more than 8,000 refugees and asylum seekers in northern France.
It's impossible to read Threads without feeling an emotional response, from outrage to tenderness to deep frustration. The book shows Evans and other volunteers as they load and unload supplies, go on grocery runs, and listen to the harrowing stories of those who have lost nearly everything—their homes, families, and friends. Primarily from the Middle East and Africa, these refugees now struggle to retain their hope and humanity in the face of unrelenting hardships, from makeshift dwellings to inadequate sanitation, brutal police raids to exploitation by smugglers. In the excerpt below, Evans returns to the Jungle for a 48-hour volunteer stint to find things are both more optimistic—and despairing—than ever.
—James Yeh, culture editor
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