This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Friday 17 June 2022, 8pm to 9pm
  • Location: Online only
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Award-winning author Helen Benedict and Syrian writer and refugee Eyad Awwadawnan team up to present the stories of five refugees from the Middle East and Africa who fled violence or persecution only to become trapped in some of the world’s worst refugee camps in Greece.

Join Helen and Eyad for a rare insight into the lives of refugees. Both authors spent years getting to know the interviewees and winning their trust. The result is five powerful stories of resilience, suffering and hope.

Hear about Hasan, Asmahan, Evans, Mursal and Calvin and their homes and families in Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Cameroon; their arduous journeys of escape; and how they ended up trapped in the Europe they believed would give them freedom, only to be abused and reviled instead.

There are more displaced people on the globe than ever since World War Two, fleeing a combination of war, civil unrest, religious conflict, dire poverty, local violence and climate change - forces often inextricably intertwined - just at a point when anti-immigrant, authoritarian governments are rising all over the world, threatening democracies and breaking their post-war commitments to protect refugees and uphold human rights. As a result, refugees today are being persecuted, demonised and denied their legal rights, both within Europe and the USA, the very places that are supposed to protect them and that, in some cases, caused them to become refugees in the first place. 

This is the scenario being played out in Greece, the major gateway to Europe that the EU has deliberately turned into a trap.

World Refugee Day takes place on Monday 20 June 2022 and begins Refugee Week UK

This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner. In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.


About the speakers

Helen Benedict is a recipient of the 2021 PEN Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History and the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. She is the author of 13 books, including the award-winning The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women at War Serving in Iraq, and the novel Wolf Season. Her writing inspired both a class action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of people sexually assaulted in the military and the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War. She is a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, New York. 

Learn more about Helen on her website

Eyad Awwadawnan, formerly a law student from Damascus, Syria, is a writer and poet currently living as an asylum-seeker in Reykjavik, Iceland. During his four years in Greece, he worked as a cultural mediator, translator and interpreter for various NGOs. He also published a featured article in Slate Magazine detailing his escape from Syria.

Read Eyad’s article in Slate Magazine


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