Nominated Georgina Henry Women in Journalism Prize 2016

Chuffed to be on the shortlist for the Georgina Henry women in journalism prize. Georgina Henry launched the Guardian’s hugely successful Comment is Free website and set up Women in Journalism back in 1995. She died of cancer in 2014 aged just 54. I recommend Alan Rusbridger’s tribute if you haven’t read already: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/07/georgina-henry The idea I pitched to the judges was for a podcast. A collection of outtakes you might say, from all the interviews I do for my articles. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and working towards for some time, but I’ve never had the money or…

“reporting & writing” named one of 10 best migrant blogs

Originally posted on London Migrant Hub:
Photo by Mike Licht There are some great migrant blogs out there but they’re not always easy to find. So, for those on the hunt for migrant voices, someone to explain new immigration policy, or just an interesting take on global migration, here are some of our favourites: 1. The Diary of a Refugee Mother Blogging as ‘Helen’, this mother of three came to the UK from Ethiopia nine years ago after having been imprisoned for political activities. She blogs, (with the help of someone from Women for Refugee Women), about the brutal realities…

Why so quiet…

It has been a while since I’ve blogged anything, mainly because I’ve been working to eat and pay the rent, but for more exciting reasons too. I’ve been writing up a different kind of article with my friend, the talented photographer Christina Theisen. Our joint effort looking at environmental projects in London will published by Lonely Coot very soon…right now it’s being edited. I’ve also been working on a long-form article for the Dominion of New York on the disproportionate use of stop and search on black people living in London. In light of the Guardian’s recent coverage of police…

Indian migrant in Ceuta, Spain

Sweet prison: migrants in Spanish limbo

Rocky is the epitome of the torment that afflicts irregular migrants across Europe. The perils of returning home for asylum seekers are clear, whether it is persecution, death or torture, and it is a sensible assumption that for ordinary migrants no such danger exists. Yet, for many who begin as labour migrants, the thought of return is equally incomprehensible.

A better life? The European Union’s other problem

Reading through my notes and transcribing the interviews from my trip earlier this year, I was struck again and again at the bleakness of life for many undocumented migrants in Europe. It pains me that in debates on immigration, the reality and sheer misery of life for the poorest migrants is never discussed. I am a journalist, not an activist. While I hold certain values dear, I write to inform, rather than persuade. But I would like people to read my work on migration to Europe, and for the facts I have uncovered to inform their thinking on immigration. This…

Nobody leaves home if things are good

Mohammed Sultan arrives in the Greek border town of Soufli early one cold January morning. His eyes are sad and downcast, his feet and trousers covered in mud and he can barely walk. Dragging his leg heavily he asks, “If I go to the police station, will they deport me?” The 38-year-old left his wife and children in Palestine and paid nearly $2,000 to get to Europe. He and his friend Ahmed crossed the River Evros the day before in an inflatable boat with eight other people. Then they walked all night through forests and fields till they came to…

Frontex guards arrest 22-year-old Mohammed

“Our job is to prevent them coming here” – EU border police

The Frontex operation is slick; policemen in military observation towers monitor the area with thermal vision cameras. If they see any migrants, they radio officers on the ground. They are reluctant to talk on the record about their work, but one Frontex officer says that if any migrants are spotted, they are “prevented” from crossing. How?

Greek riot police kettle protestors

“Greece is becoming a big concentration camp”

This is an extreme description of the effects of Greece’s dysfunctional asylum system, but one that Athens councillor Petros Konstantinou insists on. “The whole of Greece is becoming a concentration camp with no political rights, with no workers’ rights and [only] the absolute rule of the authorities,” he says. While Petros’ anger is about more than an unjust asylum system, that higher bodies are concerned means this is about more than politics. Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights’ ordered Belgium to pay a fine for returning an Afghan asylum seeker to Greece. This follows moves by several…

“We won’t eat till they look at our claim”

Here are some pics that tell the story as eloquently as reams of text… the ones of the police kettle are by the wonderful Dimitris A and the rest are mine. I’ve also done a bit of filming, but it needs a lot of editing so might not be up for a while. The title of this post is a quote from Ezmerey, one of the Afghan campaigners speaking on behalf of his friends on hunger strike. One of the big problems with seeking asylum in Greece, is that the actual process is incredibly difficult. These men aren’t appealing a…

Greece is better than Senegal

“In this area you need to carry a gun,” Alex says wearily, gesturing to the streets outside the restaurant he runs near Karaiskaki Square in central Athens. Dotted about the streets spiralling off the square and right up to Omonia metro, are small clusters of men from all over the world. Various shades of brown, they stand out from the busy commuters, who walk around them and look through them. Alex claims most are selling drugs and many are junkies. Others: “Their only occupation is to steal.” He grew up in the area and went to school nearby and reckons…

The world’s migration problem

The images of the mangled wooden boat, carrying asylum seekers from Iran and Iraq, crashing against waves and rocks off Australia’s Christmas Island were all over the internet last month. The world watched in horror as the men, women and children struggled against the elements. Around 48 people are thought to have died. Thanks to the internet the whole world could look helplessly on and many watching will have recognised the desperation of the situation. The phenomenon of people risking death to build a better life in a new country is of our time. This is a truly global story,…

What I’m blogging about….

I am currently working on a series of reports from Greece, Italy, Spain, France and the UK on asylum seekers and migrants in European Union. The project is being funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. For many asylum seekers and migrants Europe is the promised land, but often their journey west is blighted by death and their would-be hosts are less than welcoming. Over the next two months I will report on the state of the European Union’s asylum and immigration system. Is it fair? Is it over-burdened? Can a unified system work? Does the Union’s commitment to justice,…