Sally Hayden

May 17, 2022

My Fourth Time, We Drowned

Seeking Refuge on the World's Deadliest Migration Route

Melville House 2022

Late one night, journalist Sally Hayden received an urgent message on Facebook: “Sally, we need your help.” It was from a group of Eritrean refugees who had been held in a Libyan detention center for months. Now, Tripoli was crumbling in a scrimmage between warring factions, and the refugees remained stuck, defenseless, with only one hope: contacting her.

With that begins Hayden’s staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa: from brutal, vindictive Libyan guards to unexpected acts of kindness; the frustration of visiting aid workers; fake marriages between detainees; the strain on real marriages; and the phenomenon of some refugees becoming oppressors after entering into Faustian bargains with their captors. With unprecedented contact with dozens of people currently inside Libyan detention centers, My Fourth Time, We Drowned (Melville House Press, 2022) will, for the first time, detail these stories.

In the future, people will regard this pivotal period with fascination and horror. The failure of NGOs and corruption within the United Nations represents a collective abdication of international standards that will echo throughout history. But most importantly, this book will highlight the resilience of humans: how refugees and migrants locked up for years fall in love, support each other through the hardest times and carry out small acts of resistance in order to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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