The Pakistani-born Mohsin Hamid’s fourth novel, “Exit West,” takes the current Middle Eastern migrant crisis and injects a wizardry, an allegorical urgency, that declares this book’s intention to be art. In an unnamed city about to be wrecked by war — you will think Mosul or Aleppo — two students, Nadia and Saeed, begin a romance.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy’s first novel in 20 years, failed to make it onto the Man Booker Prize shortlist, even as a tale on the global migration crisis by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, alongside American authors Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund and George Saunders, as well as Ali Smith and first-time author Fiona Mozley, made it to the final six.
The six judges, headed by Baroness Lola Young, said the process of whittling down the 13 books that had made the shortlist to the final six had been a very difficult but interesting process.
The 13 authors who made it to the shortlist included many of literature’s biggest names alongside newcomers such as Mozley, whose powerful book on a family’s struggle to “retain its self sufficiency as the old ways succumb to the bland greed of the new normality”, made it a “timeless” and “timely” tale in the view of the judges.
Prominent political philosophers — including David Miller at Nuffield College, Oxford, and Joseph Carens at the University of Toronto — outline an account of “social membership” in receiving societies. This process unfolds over five to 10 years of work, everyday life, and the development of attachments. As Carens writes in Who Should Get In?(2003), after a period of years, any migrant crosses a “threshold” and is no longer a stranger. This human experience of socialization holds true for low-wage and unauthorized migrants, so a receiving society should acknowledge that migrants themselves, not only their economic contributions, are part of that society.
Carens and Miller apply this argument to the moral claims of settled migrants at risk of deportation because they are unauthorized or because the terms of their presence are tightly limited by work contracts.
UNHCR is currently negotiating with the Libyan authorities the establishment of an open reception centre that would allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement, giving priority to the most vulnerable among them. In this reception centre, UNHCR could provide registration, accommodation, food, social services, counselling and support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and solutions in third countries for the most vulnerable.
UNHCR is working to assist and protect over 535,000 people in Libya, including over 226,000 Libyans displaced by conflict, 267,000 Libyans who have now returned to their homes but continue to be in a vulnerable situation and 42,834 registered refugees and asylum-seekers.
Posters have appeared in railway stations around the country which feature a woman in a burka with the slogan: “Uncontrolled naturalisation? No to facilitated naturalisation”.
The poster was commissioned by a group of politicians working against the vote, led by Andreas Glarner of the right-wing People’s Party.
National Councillor of the Zurich Canton Rosmarie Quadranti from the centre-right Conservative Democratic Party (BDP) condemned the poster as ‘dirty campaign’ saying, “The burka has nothing to do with people who could benefit from facilitated naturalisation.”
Norway has taken out a front-page advertisement in a major Afghan newspaper warning would-be migrants that potential asylum seekers “will be returned by force”, while the Belgian asylum secretary has written directly to migrants asking them not to come.
“Afghans without need for asylum coming the #Arctic_route from #Russia, risk being sent to #Kabul. 500 returned from #Norway 2014/15,” a tweet from the immigration directorate read.
While it is yet to be seen whether Norway’s newspaper adverts will deter newcomers, it will at least be seen by thousands, quite possibly unlike Belgium’s effort this week. Already fending off accusations that the nation has become a haven for Islamist ‘sleepers’ and now resembles a “failed state”, the Belgian government’s announcement to migrants may add to their embarrassment.